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Socialite Paris Hilton Released From California Jail

Hotel heiress and socialite Paris Hilton has been freed from jail after serving 23 days for defying a court order that had suspended her driver's license for drunken driving.

The celebrity left the Los Angeles County jail at about 15 minutes after midnight (0715 UTC) Tuesday, and walked through an enormous gauntlet of photographers and television cameras to a car, where her mother, Cathy Hilton, waited.

Her original 45-day sentence was reduced for good behavior, as is customary.

The Hilton case has sparked controversy in America over whether the rich and famous get favorable treatment by law-enforcement officials.

In a statement released by her attorney soon after her detention, Hilton said being in jail is by far the hardest thing she has ever done.

Hilton's driver's license was suspended after she failed a sobriety test in September and pleaded no contest to reckless driving. She was penalized after police twice caught her driving this year while the license was still suspended.

Hilton's great-grandfather, Conrad Hilton, founded the global Hilton Hotel empire. She is perhaps best known for her role in a Fox television reality show, "The Simple Life," although critics say her fame is due simply to her public image as a rich, high-living socialite.