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Gibson charged with drunken driving

Misdemeanors carry maximum of six months in jail

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department released this booking photo of Mel Gibson.


Mel Gibson

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Mel Gibson was charged Wednesday with misdemeanor drunken driving, as well as driving with an elevated blood alcohol level and an open container of alcohol in his car, prosecutors said.

The charges were filed in Malibu five days after the Academy Award winning actor-director was stopped and arrested on Pacific Coast Highway.

Gibson's brush with the law became a national water cooler obsession after reports that he had made anti-Semitic and sexist remarks. Gibson later issued two apologies through his publicist. (Watch Gibson's second apology -- 1:30)

The open container charge is an infraction of the California vehicle code, said Deputy District Attorney Ralph Shapiro, who heads the Malibu office.

Gibson's publicist, Alan Nierob, said he would have no comment.

Gibson was stopped on the coast highway at 2:09 a.m. Friday after a Los Angeles County deputy sheriff allegedly observed him driving his 2006 Lexus at more than 85 mph.

A breath test indicated Gibson's blood-alcohol level was 0.12 percent, law enforcement officials have said. In California, a driver is considered legally intoxicated at 0.08 percent.

September court date

Gibson's arraignment was set for September 28 in Malibu Superior Court. If convicted, Gibson faces up to six months in jail, fines and suspension of his driver's license.

During his arrest, Gibson asked the arresting deputy whether he was a Jew and said, "F---ing Jews. The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world," according to a sheriff's report obtained by the entertainment Web site, which is owned by parent company Time Warner. (Watch how Mel's meltdown might cost him -- 1:54)

In his apology Tuesday, Gibson said the anti-Semitic comments were "blurted out in a moment of insanity."

"There is no excuse, nor should there be any tolerance, for anyone who thinks or expresses any kind of anti-Semitic remark," Gibson said in a statement issued by his publicist.

"I want to apologize specifically to everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words that I said to a law enforcement officer the night I was arrested on a DUI charge."

Gibson faced accusations of anti-Semitism during the publicity storm that surrounded his film "The Passion of the Christ," which the Anti-Defamation League said portrayed Jews as "bloodthirsty" and "evil." But in Tuesday's statement, Gibson said, "Hatred of any kind goes against my faith."

Arrest under review

Questions also have been raised over whether the star received special treatment during his arrest. (Watch the fallout from Gibson's arrest -- 3:00)

An independent review board has found the sheriff's department handled Gibson's arrest "in accord with its policies and practices," but it is still looking into whether deputies' initial report on the incident was sanitized, the board's chief lawyer said Tuesday.

Michael Gennaco, the top lawyer for the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department Office of Independent Review, said he had "no reason to doubt" that all the details of Gibson's arrest would be presented to the district attorney's office.

Gennaco said investigators were still trying to determine whether the actor's "inflammatory" comments were placed in a separate, supplemental document "to shield some of that report not from the DA, but from the public realm."

Sheriff's deputies originally reported Gibson was arrested "without incident." The department later explained that the term meant no force was used.

Asked about that account, Gennaco said, "I'm not sure I would have used those words."

The Sheriff's Department has previously denied that Gibson -- who has participated in a department charity that provides aid to the children of slain sheriff's deputies -- received special treatment.

Gibson announced Monday that he is participating in an "ongoing recovery program" to battle alcoholism. On Tuesday he said he wants to meet with Jewish leaders to help him "discern the appropriate path for healing."

"I am in the process of understanding where those vicious words came from during that drunken display, and I am asking the Jewish community, whom I have personally offended, to help me on my journey through recovery.

"Again, I am reaching out to the Jewish community for its help. I know there will be many in that community who will want nothing to do with me, and that would be understandable. But I pray that that door is not forever closed."

Invited to speak at synagogue

To that end, the rabbi of a Beverly Hills synagogue has invited Gibson to speak to its members on Yom Kippur -- The Day of Atonement.

"Yom Kippur, the most sacred day of the Jewish year, is a time of reflection, fasting, forgiveness and healing," Rabbi David Baron of Temple of the Arts said in a letter to Gibson.

Baron said in the letter that members of Temple of the Arts include "leading members of the film, television, music and media sectors."

Gibson spokesman Nierob said Wednesday that Gibson "has not had a chance to consider Rabbi Baron's kind offer, nor will he at this time, as it is just way too soon."

He added, "This is not a quick fix that can, nor should, be handled in the public arena. This is not about a publicity opportunity or a photo op."

Baron told CNN on Thursday that he has not yet heard from Gibson. And he said he would need to speak with the actor before he visited the synagogue.

"I insisted that I meet with him personally, one-on-one, to verify his sincerity and also to determine what path he would take to show by his actions as well as his words what his commitment is," Baron said.

The rabbi said Gibson may have been "poisoned" by the beliefs of his father, who is "a Holocaust denier."

"But my emphasis, is what about Mr. Gibson's children? What about the next generation? If he can confront this head-on, there's the possibility -- I believe, in the possibility -- of someone transforming or changing and then becoming someone who uses his celebrity as an influence for good to combat anti-Semitism."

Since Gibson's arrest, industry observers have raised questions about the future of his high-profile projects.

Gibson has a Mayan-language film called "Apocalypto" due later this year, and his film company, Icon Productions, had been producing a miniseries set during the Holocaust for ABC. The television network announced Tuesday that it was dumping that project.

But ABC's corporate parent, Disney, said "Apocalypto" remains in post-production and is scheduled for release in December.

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