Norwegian heiress fined with £23,000 for drunk-driving


Katharina G Andresen, a tobacco heiress, was handed a NOK250, 000 (£23,000) fine by an Oslo court this week after she failed a roadside breathalyser test while on her way to the family chalet in the ski resort of Hafjell, three hours north of the capital, for the Easter weekend.

Drunk-driving penalties in Norway are means-tested, and since Andresen’s assets are estimated at NOK7.7bn (£710m), reportedly making her the country’s richest woman, the fine could have been much higher.

“If the decision in this case was based on a normal return on the accused’s assets, the fine should have been set at NOK35-40m (£3.2-3.7m),” the court said in its judgment.

Andresen,22, was found to have a blood alcohol level of 0.06, three times over the legal limit, which at 0.02 is one of Europe’s strictest, more than an hour after she was stopped.

While the state prosecutor demanded the stiffest possible penalty and 18 days in prison, the court accepted that she had “no fixed income” and “the assets she possesses, at the date of this judgment, have not yet yielded a dividend”.

In normal cases, Norwegian judges fine drunk drivers 1.5 times their gross monthly salary, but they have the discretion to increase the amount based on what they consider to be the “real financial position” of the defendant.

Andresen, who was also banned from driving for 13 months and handed a suspended three-week prison sentence, said she regretted her error of judgment. “I thought I had waited long enough not to be over the limit anymore; I am very sorry.”

The heiress was given a 42% share in her family’s investment firm in 2007 and is ranked the world’s second-youngest billionaire by Forbes magazine. The family’s wealth stems originally from its acquisition of the celebrated Norwegian tobacco company JL Tiedemanns Tobaksfabrik in 1859.