Year
2008

Actor Mel Gibson completes DUI probation

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.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

First Medal of Honor action

The earliest military action to be revered with a Medal of Honor award is performed by Colonel Bernard J.D. Irwin, an assistant army surgeon serving in the first major U.S.-Apache conflict. Near Apache Pass, in southeastern Arizona, Irwin, an Irish-born doctor, volunteered to go ...read more

Dresden devastated

On the evening of February 13, 1945, the most controversial episode in the Allied air war against Germany begins as hundreds of British bombers loaded with incendiaries and high-explosive bombs descend on Dresden, a historic city located in eastern Germany. Dresden was neither a ...read more

Galileo in Rome for Inquisition

On this day in 1633, Italian philosopher, astronomer and mathematician Galileo Galilei arrives in Rometo face charges of heresy for advocating Copernican theory, which holds that the Earth revolves around the Sun. Galileo officially faced the Roman Inquisition in April of that ...read more

Johnson approves Operation Rolling Thunder

President Lyndon B. Johnson decides to undertake the sustained bombing of North Vietnam that he and his advisers have been contemplating for a year. Called Operation Rolling Thunder, the bombing campaign was designed to interdict North Vietnamese transportation routes in the ...read more

Additional troops ordered to South Vietnam

As an emergency measure in response to the 1968 communist Tet Offensive, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara approves the deployment of 10,500 troops to cope with threats of a second offensive. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, who had argued against dispatching any reinforcements at ...read more

ASCAP is founded

“If music did not pay, it would be given up.” So wrote Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in a landmark Supreme Court decision in 1917. Holmes wasn’t referring to musicians themselves in that statement, but to places of business in which copyrighted musical works could be heard, ...read more

Cinema burns in Turin

On this day in 1983, 74 people are killed when a fire blazes through a cinema in Turin, Italy. The Statuto Cinema in Turin had a capacity of just over 1,000 people on two levels, though the show on Sunday, February 13, was not nearly full. A fire began on the ground floor and ...read more

Serial killer strikes in Colorado

A 21-year-old woman named Mary accepts a ride from a man in the ski town of Breckenridge, Colorado, and is raped and severely beaten with a claw hammer. The attacker, Tom Luther, was traced through his truck and apprehended. Luther told a psychiatrist thatMary reminded him of his ...read more

Chernenko becomes general secretary

Following the death of Yuri Andropov four days earlier, Konstantin Chernenko takes over as the general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, the ruling position in the Soviet Union. Chernenko was the last of the Russian communist “hard-liners” prior to the ascension to power ...read more

John Rawlins born

On this day in 1831, Union General John Rawlins is born in Galena, Illinois. Rawlins was a close personal aide to General Ulysses S. Grant and was reported to have kept Grant from drinking heavily during the war. Rawlins’ family was originally from Virginia but had settled in ...read more