On July 28, 2006, acclaimed actor and director Mel Gibson was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department arrested Gibson, on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, where he had been driving 84 mph in a 45 mph zone. A breathalyzer test showed his blood-alcohol level to be 0.12% (the California legal limit is 0.08%). In addition to drunk driving, prosecutors charged Gibson with an infraction of having an open bottle of tequila in his car. The arrest was Gibson’s first in California for driving under the influence of alcohol.
Prosecutors charged Gibson with two misdemeanor counts of drunk driving. Several seasoned DUI attorneys were surprised that an “excessive speed enhancement” was not filed against Gibson – a charge that would mandate jail time. Under state law, a driver under the influence whose speed exceeds the posted limit by 20 mph or more on streets or 30 mph on highways faces a minimum of 60 days in jail. Legal analysts agree that the speed enhancement is a common but not automatic charge.
Gibson was scheduled to be arraigned on September 28, 2006. But, his attorneys decided on “advancing the case,” meaning to have it resolved before the arraignment date. Legal experts say this is common in such cases. It allowed the case to be resolved without a heavy media swarm. August 18, 2006, Gibson pled “no contest” to one count of driving while having a blood alcohol content higher than .08.
Subsequently, Gibson was sentenced to three years of “supervised probation,” meaning that he has to go back to court periodically to show he is abiding by the terms of his probation. His drivers license was also restricted for 90 days and he was ordered to undergo a state-mandated alcohol-abuse education program for 3 months. Additionally, he was also sentenced to pay more than $1,600 in fines and fees.
Gibson has issued two public apologies since his arrest and said he suffered a relapse in his longtime battle with alcoholism.