Nolte was under the influence of ''date rape'' drug. When arrested for DUI last month, the actor was on GHB, a Rohypnol-like depressant, police say

By Gary Susman
October 24, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT
Nick Nolte: iPhoto.ca/ImageDirect

When Nick Nolte was arrested last month for driving under the influence, the drug in his system was GHB, a drug known in nightclubs as ”the date-rape drug” because it can cause users to lose consciousness. So say Los Angeles County prosecutors, who filed charges against the 61-year-old actor yesterday over the incident, according to a statement released by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office. The complaint against Nolte, which is posted online at The Smoking Gun, charges him with two misdemeanor counts: driving under the influence and being under the influence of a controlled substance.

Police stopped Nolte on Sept. 11 on the Pacific Coast Highway, near his Malibu home, because they said his Mercedes was making its tires squeal and swerving into oncoming traffic. A police spokesperson said at the time that the actor ”seemed completely out of it. He was drooling, [with] droopy eyes.” Authorities speculated at the time that he was under the influence of a drug other than alcohol, but it wasn’t until Wednesday that they disclosed that the blood test showed gamma hydroxybutyrate, or GHB. The drug, which comes in liquid, powder, or pill form, shows up in nightclubs because of its euphoric effect, but it can also cause Rohypnol-like loss of consciousness, which is why GHB also has a date-rape drug reputation.

Nolte, who in 2001 claimed he’d been sober for four years and had given himself over to a strict organic-food health regimen, checked himself into rehab three days after his arrest. If convicted on the misdemeanor charges, he faces six months in jail.

The arrest came days after an appearance at the Toronto Film Festival, where he was promoting an upcoming movie, ”The Good Thief,” in which he plays a heroin-addicted robber. He also stars in next spring’s ”The Hulk” as the father of the green superhero, who has his own gamma problems, having been irradiated with gamma rays that cause his clothes-shredding transformations.

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