Embroiled in a tax row that saw the Frenchman take Russian nationality and angrily vow to leave his native country, the 64-year-old star has already admitted driving his scooter in Paris while inebriated last month.
An alcohol test showed he was more than three times above the drink-driving limit.
If he had shown up this morning he would likely have escaped with a small fine and penalty points on his driving license.
He now faces a criminal court hearing, which could lead to a fine of 4,500 euros (£3,670) and a maximum prison sentence of up to two years.
Speaking to a scrum of reporters outside the court, lawyer Eric de Caumont, said the star of Cyrano de Bergerac was unable to attend his “guilty plea” before a prosecutor and the court as he was “abroad for professional reasons”.
After attending the Ballon d’Or football prize-giving ceremony in Zurich, Switzerland last night, he said Depardieu flew to Monténégro film festival this morning.
The lawyer insisted Depardieu had in no way “refused to present himself to the judges”, did not wish to “escape” the hearing and had “not chosen not to come”.
“He had professional obligations as he had to meet producers for a film shoot that will start mid-January,” he said.
The prosecutor had refused a request to postpone the hearing for a second time, saying he saw no reason to afford the actor “preferential treatment”.
The criminal court hearing would take place “in a few months time,” said Mr de Caumont.
On Monday night, Depardieu denied that he accepted a Russian passport to escape the taxman in France, insisting that while he may also seek Belgian nationality, he is still French.
"I have a Russian passport, but I remain French and I will probably have dual Belgian nationality," he said in the interview with the sports channel L'Equipe21. "But if I'd wanted to escape the taxman, as the French press says, I would have done it a long time ago."
Mr Depardieu has been at the centre of a heated debate over tax exiles as France's Socialist government looks to boost revenue with a “supertax” on the rich. His recent decision to move to neighbouring Belgium, where taxes are less steep for wealthy, drew fierce criticism from the government and many peers.
Then, over the weekend, Depardieu showed up in Russia to accept a passport delivered personally by President Vladimir Putin.
Elisabeth Depardieu, the actor's ex-wife, said in an interview on Monday with RTL radio that her former spouse is highly emotional and more fragile than he seems.
"When he feels refused, he becomes provocative," she said. "Should we throw stones? He is a monument. He is a poet."
Today, acclaimed French classical actor Denis Podalydes expressed concern than the French screen legend had “flipped completely into the world of fiction” and that the current controversy could “kill him”.
He said he thought of the star as a “wayward son” who should be “forgiven all his mistakes the moment he makes them”.
“Gérard Depardieu is not a part of the (French) film landscape, he is the landscape itself, like Victor Hugo was the landscape of French literature, or Proust,” he said.
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