When John Benoit met Paris

John Benoit and Paris Hilton have a past.

Before he was a Republican Assemblyman representing Palm Desert, Benoit was the commander of the Indio-area California Highway Patrol. At a little before noon on May 3, 2000, he was on duty driving an unmarked Crown Victoria on Westbound I-10 on his way to a meeting.

“A black BMW went by me like I was standing still,” Benoit said. “It took me a while to catch up.”

The driver of the car was Paris Hilton.

He estimates Hilton was going 125 miles per hour, though he only clocked her at 110 when he reached her. Benoit said going that fast in 70 mph zone is “one step below reckless driving.”

“As I was writing the ticket I realized who it was,” Benoit said. “She wasn’t quite as famous back then. I started to explain the likely insurance costs that would follow a ticket of this type, then I realized I should just forget about it.”

He described Hilton’s attitude as “a little confused” but basically unconcerned.

“It just didn’t seem to matter to her,” Benoit said. “She was going to drive the way she was going to drive.”

According to court records, Hilton got a continuance for her June court date, then didn’t show up in September, resulting in a “failure to appear” warrant being issued for her. She showed up the next month, paid a $400 fine and was able to get her record purged. The ticket no longer appears on the Riverside County online court records.

Failure to appear for traffic tickets is also the charge that has seen Hilton ordered to report to jail on June 5 for a 45 day sentence. In the last year she’s been cited in separate incidents for DUI and doing 70 mph in a 35 mph zone in her Bentley on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. She made an unsuccessful request for a pardon from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The Riverside Press Enterprise, which picked up an earlier version of this story, reported that Benoit also pulled over Deliverance actor John Voight in the 1970s.

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