General News

Nolte Gets Probation

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Dec 12, 2002 | 12:37pm EST

Not one but two Oscar nominees are now on probation.

Actor Nick Nolte received a sentence of three years probation, including counseling and drug testing, after pleading no contest Thursday to one count of driving under the influence of drugs. Prosecutors dropped a second misdemeanor charge of being under the influence of a controlled substance in exchange for the plea.

Under terms of probation, the actor must take a 90-day safe driving program, undergo random drug and alcohol tests, and attend weekly drug counseling sessions and a 12-step anti-drug program. Superior Court Judge Lawrence Mira also fined Nolte $500.

Nolte showed up for the 15-minute hearing in Malibu Superior Court in a black suit, with trimmed beard and long hair slicked back--a far cry from the actor's well-publicized shockingly unkempt police mug shot.

CHP stopped the 61-year-old actor on Sept. 11 after he had been spotted in his black Mercedes swerving into oncoming lanes on Pacific Coast Highway near his home in Malibu, and he was taken into custody after failing a sobriety test.

Lab tests showed he had taken the illegal depressant gamma-hydroxybutyrate, otherwise known as the date-rape drug GHB.

After sentencing Nolte said that he had taken "a synergistic amino acid thing." When asked by reporters how the GHB got into his system, he said,"it got there."

He said, "I have deep regrets being on the road in that condition.

"You can't help learning from this experience," said Nolte, who voluntarily entered the Connecticut rehabilitation facility Silver Hill Hospital four days after his arrest and says he now feels excellent. "It was kind of a godsend, a wake-up call. I've been wanting to get out from under this substance because I have been sober from 1989 to 1999.''

For years Nolte, Oscar-nominated in 1999 for Affliction and in 1992 The Prince of Tides, was known for his heavy drinking. After he quit he got heavily into health and fitness.

Outside court last week, Nolte's attorney, Mark Werksman, said, "We suspect that he consumed it (GHB) inadvertently, accidentally ... in the course of (taking) a weightlifting supplement, a health care product, that may have contained this substance...to accuse him of consuming an illegal date rape drug would be very far-fetched, completely out of the question.''

Judge Mira accepted the plea after reviewing a drug counselor's report indicating Nolte's progress, but added a stern warning.

"I understand you are doing very well in this approach to rehabilitation,'' the judge said. "If there are any problems I will invite you to come back early.''

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