Bruce Springsteen has DWI and reckless driving charges dropped
Bruce Springsteen pleaded guilty Wednesday to drinking shots of tequila as a New Jersey federal park last year, but prosecutors dropped charges of DWI and reckless driving after he was found to be well within the legal limit. During a virtual arraignment hearing on Wednesday, prosecutors said they could not meet the legal burden for the drunken driving against The Boss, 71, who's blood alcohol content was found to be .02 - well below the state's threshold of 0.8.
Wearing a dark blazer, sweater and collared shirt, Springsteen sat next to his lawyer Mitchell Ansell during the appearance before Magistrate Judge Anthony Mautone.
He answered a series of brief questions from Ansell, acknowledging he had been drinking alcohol inside Gateway National Park, in Sandy Hook on November 14, and that he was aware it was illegal at the time.
'I had two small shots of tequila,' Springsteen told the judge. After the 'Born in the USA' singer entered his guilty plea, Mautone ordered him to pay a fine of $540.
'I am going to impose nothing but a fine,' the judge said, adding that Springsteen has an incredibly clean driving history, dating back to 1973. 'Rarely would you see a driver’s abstract so devoid of any entries. I’m convinced a fine is the appropriate sentence in this case.'
The judge then asked Springsteen when he would be able to pay the fine by, in which he responded without hesitation: 'I think I can pay that right away'.
The singer was charged on November 14 at Gateway National Park in Sandy Hook, New Jersey with drunken driving, reckless driving and consuming alcohol in a closed area.
The incident reportedly unfolded after Springsteen pulled over on his motorbike to take a picture with fans near the park's iconic lighthouse and accepted a Patron tequila shot from one of them in full view of watching police.
When approached by a park ranger, Springsteen reportedly admitted he'd consumed two shots of tequila in 20 minutes but refused to take an initial breathalyzer test.
In his report, the ranger wrote that Springsteen smelt strongly of alcohol', had 'glassy eyes', and was 'visibly swaying' back and forth.
Sources close to Springsteen have previously called into question the legitimacy of the star's arrest.
Speaking to CNN earlier this month, one source said: 'When this is all resolved, I think, people are gonna have some serious doubts about the seriousness of this, especially when the actual details of this are revealed, including the blood alcohol level.
'I don't know why they stopped him,' they continued. 'I mean technically you're not allowed to drink in a state park and I don't know, maybe, if a policeman sees somebody drinking and doesn't give them a ticket, they lose their job.'
In the park ranger's report, authored by R. L. Hayes, the officer said he had witnessed Springsteen 'consume a shot of Patron tequila' before getting on his motorcycle to 'start the engine'.
Hayes said he then informed the New Jersey-native that drinking inside Gateway National Recreation Area is 'prohibited'.
'The Patron bottle that the shot was poured out of was completely empty (750ml),' the ranger continued. '
'I asked Springsteen if he was leaving and he confirmed that he was going to drive out of the park.'
The ranger also said he 'observed four out of six clues on the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.'
'[Springsteen] was visibly swaying back and forth while I observed his eyes,' Hayes wrote.
'I observed five out of eight clues on the walk and turn test. Springsteen took 45 total steps during the walk and turn instead of the instructed 19. [He] refused to provide a sample on the preliminary breath test.'
According to Hayes' report, Springsteen was detained near the lighthouse in the park.
He was then charged with DWI, reckless driving and consuming alcohol in a closed area of the park.
A DWI in a national park is a misdemeanor federal offense, carrying a maximum sentence of six months in jail and fines of up to $5,000. Probation can also be up to five years, according to Freeburg Law.
Alcohol has been banned entirely from Gateway National Recreation Area since 2019, and is prohibited from being brought onto its beaches, parking lots, park grounds, picnic areas and boating docks.
Springsteen, who previously owned a home in Rumson, a few towns from Sandy Hook, has filmed several music videos and other projects at the federal park.
For the cover of his 1987 album Tunnel of Love, Springsteen used the park's beach as his backdrop. Gateway was also the setting for video of his solo track 'Brilliant Disguise', and featured in his 2014 short film, Hunter of Invisible Game.
News of Springsteen's arrest took three months to come to light. It's currently unclear why.
However, the incident was first reported just days after 96.4million viewers watched him star in an ad for Jeep during Sunday's Super Bowl.
The much-hyped ad was the first time the rock veteran has appeared in a Super Bowl commercial. In the two-minute clip, titled The Middle, Springsteen urged unity in America.
Jeep later pulled its add from circulation, in light of the controversy. In a statement Jeep said: it 'would be inappropriate for us to comment on the details of a matter we have only read about and we cannot substantiate.'
'It's also right that we pause our Big Game commercial until the actual facts can be established.'
'Its message of community and unity is as relevant as ever. As is the message that drinking and driving can never be condoned.'
It is unclear whether Jeep were aware of Springsteen's legal woes at the time of production.
Tom Brady won his seventh Super Bowl, 31-9, on Sunday night as he powered the Tampa Bay Buccaneers past the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs in a game staged in the shadow of a deadly pandemic and a nation roiled by political and racial division.