Canadian pop star Justin Bieber was arrested in Miami Beach early today and charged with driving under the influence and resisting arrest without violence after police said he had been stopped while “drag racing” down a street before dawn.
Under Florida law, people under the age of 21 are considered driving under the influence if they have a blood-alcohol content of 0.02 or more — a level the 5-foot-9, 140-pound star could reach with one drink.
For a first DUI offence, there is no minimum jail sentence and a maximum of six months, a fine of $250 to $500, and 50 hours of community service — which he would have to serve in the state of Florida. For anyone under 21, there is an automatic six-month licence suspension — which would take effect no matter where in the U.S. the pop star travelled.
A Miami-Dade County judge set Bieber’s bond at $2,500 on Thursday afternoon.
Bieber had been held at the Miami Beach police station and then Miami-Dade county jail since his arrest. The court appearance was conducted by video soon after 1 p.m. ET.
Bieber was nabbed and taken into custody soon after 4 a.m. ET Thursday, police said.
Run-ins with the law
Bieber, who was born in London, Ont., raised in nearby Stratford, but now lives in the Los Angeles area, has had several incidents with law enforcement officials in the past month. In Miami, he was accused of racing a rented, yellow Lamborghini alongside a red Ferrari driven by a friend identified as rhythm and blues singer Khalil.
Khalil, whose full name is Khalil Amir Sharieff, was also arrested and charged with driving under the influence. His bond was set at $1,000.
At a morning news conference, Miami Beach police Chief Raymond Martinez said Bieber was “a little belligerent, questioning, using some choice words, why he had been stopped.”
Martinez said Bieber was tested, and acknowledged that he been smoking marijuana and drinking beer, and had taken a prescription medicine. The chief said he didn’t know the nature of the prescription drug. He also said Bieber was using an invalid Georgia driver’s licence.
Bieber’s blood-alcohol levels weren’t released.
Co-operative at station
The racing consisted of going from a standing start on Pine Tree Drive — a residential area where the speed limit is 50 km/h — to approximately 100 km/h, Martinez said.
“Once he was here at the station, he was very co-operative,” Martinez said. “We did not have any issues with him.”
The arresting officer’s statement, released at about 11 a.m., said Bieber was directed to get out of the Lamborghini once the officer saw his bloodshot eyes and smelled alcohol. Bieber said to him: “Why the f–k are you doing this?”
Once Bieber got out of the car, the officer asked him to put his hands on the vehicle and keep his hands out of his pockets.
“Fearing that the driver might have a weapon or contraband, I asked the driver to place his hands on his vehicle in order to facilitate a cursory pat down for weapons,” the statement says.
Bieber responded: “What the f–k did I do, why did you stop me?”
The pop star was asked again to put his hands on the car. Bieber complied, but soon removed them and turned to face the officer.
Bieber is quoted as then saying: “I ain’t got no f—ing weapons. Why do you have to search me? What the f–k is this about?”
After Bieber had three times failed to keep his hands on the car, the officer took his right hand and put him under arrest. Bieber tried to pull away, but was then taken into custody “with no further incident,” the statement says.
The officer gave Bieber a standardized field sobriety test on a flat, well-lit surface. Bieber “did not perform to standards,” the officer’s statement says.
Bieber had been in the Miami area for a few days and had reportedly been visiting a club on Lincoln Road on Wednesday night.
Earlier reports indicated the musician’s entourage had used their cars to block traffic on Pine Tree Drive at 26th Street, creating a “drag strip” for Bieber.
Open question of deportation
It’s not clear whether he will be deported as a result of this incident. According to U.S. federal law a conviction is not always required.
The Immigration and Nationality Act says any non-U.S. citizen convicted of — or who admits to committing — an act related to a controlled substance — is inadmissible into the country.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection “a single DUI conviction is not grounds to deny entry into the U.S; however, multiple DUI convictions or a DUI conviction in combination with other misdemeanour offences can make a person inadmissible and require a waiver prior to entering the United States. A crime of moral turpitude (CIMT) may be grounds to deny entry to the U.S.”
Bieber is currently under investigation in a felony vandalism case after a neighbour reported the pop star threw eggs at his house and caused thousands of dollars of damage.
His arrest in Miami is unlikely to affect the egg-throwing investigation, however, should he be found guilty of vandalism, added to the charges of driving under the influence and resisting arrest, it could put him at risk of being deported.
Nearly a dozen detectives searched Bieber’s home last week for video surveillance and other evidence that could be used to pursue a vandalism charge.
Bieber is also being sued by a former bodyguard who says the singer repeatedly berated him, hit him in the chest and owes him more than $420,000 in overtime and other wages. The case is scheduled to go to trial in Los Angeles next month.
On Jan. 4, detectives from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department found drugs and arrested an associate of the singer during the search of Bieber’s home.
Police noted that Bieber, his security and entourage co-operated fully with the search, but did not make an official statement.
Bieber lives in a gated community in Calabasas, a celebrity enclave northwest of downtown L.A.
Last October, prosecutors declined to charge Bieber after a neighbour complained he drove recklessly through the area.
In November 2012, prosecutors also declined to charge Bieber when the singer was accused of punching and hitting a man after leaving a Calabasas movie theatre.