updated 2/2/2004 4:33:41 PM ET 2004-02-02T21:33:41

The 21-year-old son of former Vice President Al Gore must complete substance abuse counseling as part of a pretrial diversion program to settle a marijuana possession charge.

The agreement approved by a judge Monday calls for the misdemeanor charge to be dropped after a year if Albert Gore III submits to urine testing, community service and counseling, and steers clear of criminal convictions.

The younger Gore, who attends Harvard University, had no comment after the brief hearing. He was accompanied by his mother, Tipper Gore, who did not comment other than saying the issue was a “private matter.” Gore did not have to enter a plea, and his case was placed on the inactive docket.

The son of the former vice president and Democratic presidential nominee was arrested Dec. 19 in Bethesda after an officer stopped him for driving without having his headlights on. The officer smelled marijuana and noticed the windows of the car were open despite frigid temperatures.

A search of the car turned up a partial marijuana cigarette, a cigarette box containing suspected marijuana and a crushed soda can that smelled like marijuana.

Gore was charged with marijuana possession, as were the two passengers in the car, Yann V. Kumin, 21, and Marc G. Hordon, 22, both of Cambridge, Mass.

Hordon and Kumin will undergo the same treatment program as Gore, prosecutor Douglas Gansler said.

He said no favoritism was shown Gore because of his family’s political stature.

“Regardless of who the defendant is ... we treat them in the exact same way,” Gansler said.

The younger Gore had been stopped by police twice before in recent years. He was ticketed by military police in September 2002 outside Fort Myer in suburban Virginia for driving under the influence.

North Carolina police cited Gore in the summer of 2000 for driving 97 mph in a 55 mph zone. Charges were dropped, but he had to pay a $125 ticket, and his driving privileges were suspended in the state.

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