On September 11, 2002, actor Nick Nolte, then 61, was pulled over by a California Highway Patrol officer on the southbound side of the Pacific Coast Highway. Nolte had been driving his black Mercedes Benz sedan erratically, weaving through lanes and even briefly crossing into oncoming traffic. Nolte failed a field sobriety test and was arrested, where he remained in custody until 8:30 pm. The arresting officer stated that Nolte was “drooling,” and “completely out of it.”
Nolte was originally booked for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but CHP spokesman Leland Tang explained that police had “strong reason to believe there were drugs involved.” As a result of the incident, Nolte admitted himself to Silver Hills Hospital in Connecticut, a rehabilitation hospital where numerous celebrities had received treatment for psychiatric, drug, and alcohol issues. Nolte did ultimately face drug charges, as his blood tests revealed that he was under the influence of the synthetic depressant GHB (Gamma Hydroxybutyrate). Nolte’s attorney said the actor had no idea how the GHB got into his bloodstream, theorizing that it may have been present in one of the many nutritional supplements Nolte took for health and fitness reasons.
Nolte entered a no contest plea to misdemeanor DUI charges in return for authorities dropping charges of driving under the influence of a controlled substance. He received three years’ probation and was ordered to undertake a 90-day substance abuse program.