On February 13, 2008, a California judge rules that the actor Mel Gibson, star of such movies as the Academy Award-winning “Braveheart” and the “Mad Max” and “Lethal Weapon” series, has successfully completed the terms of his no-contest plea to misdemeanor drunk driving.
The 50-year-old Gibson made headlines after he was stopped for speeding and arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol in the early morning hours of July 28, 2006, on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, California. The actor, who was driving a Lexus LS 430, reportedly had an open bottle of tequila on the seat next to him. A breathalyzer test revealed his blood-alcohol level was above California’s legal limit. Details of the incident were leaked to the press later that same day and a media frenzy ensued after it was revealed that Gibson had made anti-Semitic remarks to the Jewish police officer who arrested him.
Gibson publicly apologized for his behavior and in August 2006 his attorney entered a plea on the actor’s behalf of no contest to one count of driving with a blood-alcohol content higher than 0.08 percent. A judge sentenced Gibson to three years probation, along with 4 1/2 months of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings five times a week followed by 7 1/2 months of meetings three times a week. Additionally, the actor was ordered to enter an alcohol-abuse rehab program for three months and had his license restricted for 90 days.
Gibson is far from the only Hollywood celebrity to be involved in a drunk-driving case. In 2007, Kiefer Sutherland, the star of the hit TV show “24,” pled guilty to a DUI charge in California and was sentenced to 48 days in jail. Also in 2007, Lane Garrison, of TV’s “Prison Break,” pled guilty to a DUI and vehicular manslaughter for the 2006 death of a high school student who was a passenger in the actor’s Land Rover when he crashed it into a tree. Garrison was sentenced to 40 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution to the victims and their families. (Two other teenagers in Garrison’s vehicle survived the crash.) Nearly 13,000 people across America died in drunk-driving related crashes in 2007, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.