Matt Sayles/AP
October 10, 2007 03:55 PM

Kiefer Sutherland, who reached a plea deal Tuesday in his DUI case, is expected to start serving a 48-day jail sentence a few days before Christmas – but he won’t necessarily have to serve his term all at once, according to legal experts.

“Based on the agreement, Sutherland will first serve 18 straight days in county jail for violating probation,” says veteran DUI attorney Lawrence Taylor. “He’ll be spending Christmas and New Year’s behind bars.”

After that, Sutherland, 40, will have six months to complete an additional 30 days for the DUI – which he can even serve on weekends if he chooses to do so. He’ll be allowed to serve the second portion of his sentence in a city jail (which is seen as less harsh than a county facility).

The 24 star is ordered to appear in Metropolitan Court in Los Angeles on Dec. 21 for formal sentencing. He’s expected to plead no contest to a misdemeanor DUI count and admit that he violated probation from a 2004 DUI conviction.

He will then be taken into custody by sheriff deputies on the spot and transported to the L.A. Men’s Central Jail. The plea deal stipulates that he cannot be released on home electronic monitoring.

Sutherland released a statement late Tuesday saying, “I’m very disappointed in myself for the poor judgment I exhibited recently, and I’m deeply sorry for the disappointment and distress this has caused my family, friends and co-workers on 24 and at 20th Century Fox. I appreciate the support and concern that has been extended to me these last weeks both personally and professionally.”

His studio, 20th Century Fox, indicated that the jail term would not affect the show’s production.

Sutherland will have until July 1 next year to show proof to the court that he completed the 30 days of jail time. Anything less will be deemed as another probation violation, the agreement says.

Sutherland will also be sentenced to five years’ probation, complete an 18-month alcohol education program and attend weekly alcohol therapy sessions for six months.

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