LOS ANGELES – Mel Gibson was charged Wednesday with misdemeanor drunken driving, having an elevated blood-alcohol level and having an open container of liquor in his car.
The three counts were filed by Los Angeles County prosecutors five days after Gibson was pulled over on Malibu's Pacific Coast Highway for speeding and he made anti-Semitic comments to the arresting deputy.
The open container violation, for a bottle of tequila allegedly found in his car, is an infraction of the vehicle code.
The charges did not mention Gibson's self-described "belligerent behavior" toward the deputy or any allegation of speeding. Arraignment was set for Sept. 28 in Malibu Superior Court.
If convicted, Gibson faces up to six months in jail, the district attorney's office said.
Gibson's publicist referred a request for comment to the actor's attorneys. A telephone message seeking comment was left at the office of lawyers Blair Berk and Barry Tarlow.
"The ball is now in his court whether he is going to ask for a trial," said district attorney's spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons.
She said Gibson does not have to appear for his arraignment and can have a lawyer appear for him instead.
First-time misdemeanor drunken driving offenders usually face minimal, if any, time behind bars.
If convicted, it would be up to the judge to determine if Gibson would have to serve any time, Gibbons said.
"They might count the time he spent in custody as time served," she said.
The Sheriff's Department said Gibson was stopped at 2:36 a.m. Friday after being seen speeding at 87 mph in a 45-mph zone. Authorities said his blood-alcohol level tested at 0.12 percent. A California driver is legally intoxicated at 0.08 percent.
According to a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity, the sheriff's report says Gibson told the arresting deputy: "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world," and asked him, "Are you a Jew?"
Gibson has issued two public apologies since then, and his publicist, Alan Nierob, has said the actor-director was in an ongoing program for alcohol abuse before the arrest and has entered another, on an outpatient basis.
The latest apology addressed the Jewish community directly.
"I want to apologize specifically to everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words," Gibson said in a statement issued by his publicist. "Please know from my heart that I am not an anti-Semite. I am not a bigot. Hatred of any kind goes against my faith.
Gibson, 50, has had a troubled relationship with Jewish organizations since his 2004 blockbuster "The Passion of the Christ," which some criticized for portraying Jews as responsible for the death of Jesus. Supporters say the movie merely followed the Gospel story.
Gibson's apologies weren't accepted by former TV producer Merv Adelson, who took out an ad in Wednesday's Los Angeles Times blasting moving studio heads for not strongly and publicly condemning Gibson.
"Let's make ourselves proud and NOT support this JERK in any way, just because he's a so called 'star,"' wrote Adelson, co-founder of Lorimar Productions, which produced such TV hits as "Eight is Enough" and "The Waltons."
The Sheriff's Department has denied allegations of a cover-up that stem from an initial account that described the arrest as occurring without incident and which made no mention of Gibson's remarks to the deputy.
An independent county office that investigates allegations of wrongdoing by the department announced after a preliminary review that the arrest was handled within policy.
But the head of the agency, Michael Gennaco, said Tuesday he wouldn't have described the arrest as being without incident, and he couldn't say whether the department tried to shield Gibson's remarks from the public when the original arrest report was ordered modified and the comments placed in a supplemental report.
In a related matter, sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said it was not a violation of department policy when a sergeant drove Gibson to a tow yard to retrieve his car after being cited and released on his own recognizance.
"It's within our policy to help people out and also to avoid a possible conflict," Whitmore said, describing the brief trip in a patrol car. "We didn't want Mr. Gibson to get into any kind of disturbance with the paparazzi."