May 09, 2007 04:00 PM

Today’s burning question: If Paris Hilton is such a traffic scofflaw that she has to be locked up, what was she doing behind the wheel of a car this week?

It turns out that, despite her jail sentence for violating probation by driving with a suspended license, that California card in her designer purse is now perfectly valid. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, her license was suspended in November – and reinstated in March.

“If her license was reinstated, she’s perfectly okay to drive despite her probation violation. There’s no problem with that,” explains veteran DUI attorney Lawrence Taylor.

Meanwhile, Hilton’s lawyer issued a statement Wednesday afternoon saying she is “ready to face the consequences” for her actions.

“After reading the media’s coverage of my court hearing, I feel the need to correct what I believe are misperceptions about me. I absolutely realize how serious driving under the influence is. I could not live with myself if anyone was injured or killed while I was driving while impaired. Clearly, no one should – no matter how slightly. I am ready to face the consequences of violating probation.

“No one is above the law. I surely am not. I do not expect to be treated better than anyone else who violated probation. However, my hope is that I will not be treated worse.”

As for her her fans’ petition asking Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to pardon her, it won’t likely have any effect. According to a source at the California Board of Prisons, the governor has jurisdiction only in felony cases, and only after time has been served.

“Pardons don’t generally keep people out of jail – they’re used after the fact to expunge the criminal record to allow the offender to get a job, vote and other things non-felons can do,” the source says.

Hilton on May 8

Governor’s spokesman Aaron McLear tells PEOPLE that no official documents or requests for a pardon have been received, and that the governor would only act in extraordinary circumstances.

Legal experts say Hilton stands little chance of winning an appeal, although it may delay her surrender deadline date of June 5.

But if she’s well-behaved behind bars, she may be get an early release due to jail overcrowding policies.

“It’s possible that Paris will do less than the 45 days,” sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore tells PEOPLE. “She may very well be eligible for an early release, but I can’t go into what the variables are.”

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