Nick Nolte gets probation, drug counseling. He pleads no contest in his September DUI charge and gets mandatory rehab

By Gary Susman
Updated December 13, 2002 at 05:00 AM EST
Nick Nolte: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Back in October, Nick Nolte’s lawyer denied the assertion of prosecutors that his client been under the influence of GHB when he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in September. ”He was not under the influence of a date-rape drug,” attorney Mark Werksman said at the time. ”That’s ridiculous. Nick Nolte is not out there popping illicit or narcotic drugs.” Nolte’s arraignment was postponed until the defense could conduct its own blood test. On Thursday, the results were apparently in, and Nolte reappeared in court to offer a no contest plea to the DUI charge and sentenced to three years probation and three months in drug rehab.

According to Reuters, Werksman said Nolte did indeed ingest GHB, but he did so inadvertantly, as part of a body-building drink. ”He orders these concoctions, he gets them from infomercials and other people who are interested in weight-lifting,” Werksman said. The 61-year-old ”Affliction” star demonstrated to CBS News in 2001 his rigorous health regimen, involving dozens of vitamins and herbal supplements each day. On the day of the arrest, ”he was coming home from an appointment, and he had inadvertently consumed this substance earlier that day, and it made him very disoriented, and he was pulled over,” Werksman said. ”He mixes a concoction every morning, and he tried this drink, and … several hours later rendered him virtually unconscious on the road.”

At the time of his arrest, police said they spotted Nolte weaving through traffic on the highway near his Malibu home, and when they pulled him over, he was ”drooling, [with] droopy eyes.” Three days later, he checked into Silver Hill, the Connecticut clinic where Billy Joel and Mariah Carey were recent patients. After four weeks, he returned to California and entered an outpatient drug program. As part of his sentence, Nolte must stay with the program for three more months, submit to random drug tests, take a 12-week drunk-driving awareness course, and pay $1,300 in fines. In return for his plea, a second charge, of being under the influence of a controlled substance, was dropped.

”I think he did the right thing by confronting this and resolving it quickly and taking steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Werksman said. ”He’s a very healthy guy except for this 30-year struggle he’s had with dependency.” Nolte’s conclusion was more blunt. Asked by reporters outside the courthouse what he had to say to fans, he replied, ”Don’t drink and drive.” Then he stepped into a chauffeured car and rode off.