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Last Updated: Friday, 18 August 2006, 08:27 GMT 09:27 UK
Gibson told to attend AA meetings
Mel Gibson police mug shot taken after arrest
Gibson's anti-Semitic remarks caused a media furore
Actor Mel Gibson has been ordered to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings by a judge after he pleaded no contest to a drink-driving charge.

The Oscar-winning director was given three years' probation, California officials said.

He did not appear at the hearing but entered the plea through his lawyer, the district attorney's office said.

During his arrest, Gibson made what he has said were "harmful" anti-Semitic comments. He subsequently apologised.

Gibson said he had suffered a relapse in his battle with alcoholism.

He was arrested on 28 July after being seen driving at 87mph (139km/h) on a 45mph (72km/h) stretch of Malibu's Pacific Coast Highway, the local sheriff's department said.

Court deal

Gibson pleaded no contest to driving with excess alcohol in his blood.

But in a deal with the court, two other charges - driving under the influence and having an open bottle of tequila in his car - were both dropped.

Pacific Coast Highway
Gibson was stopped on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu
"This was an appropriate outcome which addresses all the public safety concerns of drinking and driving," prosecutor Gina Satriano said.

A no contest plea is not an admission of guilt, but for sentencing purposes it is equivalent to a guilty plea.

Authorities said his blood-alcohol level was found to be 0.12%. The legal limit in California is 0.08%.

Gibson was ordered to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings five times a week for four-and-a-half months, and then three per week for a further seven-and-a-half months.

The actor also has to complete a three-month alcohol education and counselling programme for first-time offenders.

Public information film

Gibson had also volunteered to appear in a public information film on the hazards of drink-driving, but that was not made a condition of his sentence.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca has so far denied the media access to audio and video tapes of Gibson's arrest on the grounds that they are part of an "investigatory file" and exempt from public records laws.

The issue arose because a sheriff's spokesman said Gibson's arrest occurred "without incident", and made no mention of the anti-Semitic remarks.

Asked whether the tapes would be released, Mr Baca said: "I'm looking at that right now - I've got to go back and look at everything that was there."

Gibson, 50, is due back in court for a progress report in January.

He won a best director Oscar for his 1995 film Braveheart, in which he also starred.

His 2004 biblical epic, The Passion of the Christ, was recently named the most controversial movie to date by US magazine Entertainment Weekly.

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