UPDATED: After news broke Wednesday that Bruce Springsteen was arrested in New Jersey on suspicion of drunken driving last November, uproar quickly ensued: Fans were baffled that such a thing would happen to the singer — who is not a teetotaler but has never been known to be a heavy drinker — and Jeep quickly removed the recent Super Bowl ad starring Springsteen from their YouTube page, stating “drinking and driving can never be condoned.”
However, unconfirmed details emerged Wednesday and Thursday that presented conflicting versions of the severity of the offense. The Asbury Park Press (a town near to Springsteen’s home that often featured in Springsteen’s songs) cited a law-enforcement report as saying the singer’s blood alcohol level was .02 — far below the legal limit of .08 — and the New York Post cited a “source close to Springsteen” as saying the 71-year-old singer had accepted a single shot of tequila offered by a fan. The source said Springsteen had been riding his motorcycle in the Gateway National Recreation Area, a federal park in Sandy Hook, N.J., and pulled over to take pictures with fans; he then accepted the shot offered by one of them, in full view of police officers.
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“Bruce stopped, took the pictures, then a fan offered him a shot of liquor, which he took, while sitting on his bike, which was stationary,” the source said, according to the report. “Park Police saw what happened and they immediately pulled Springsteen over as he drove away.”
However, on Thursday afternoon, TMZ, citing legal documents it did not publish, reports that “an officer watched Bruce take a shot of Patron Tequila, hop on his motorcycle and start the engine. The officer says he informed Bruce drinking was prohibited in the area and observed the 750 ml bottle of Patron was empty. Springsteen allegedly told the cop he’d only had 2 shots of tequila in the last 20 minutes, the officer says he smelled strongly of alcohol and his eyes were glassy.” The report also said that Springsteen was “swaying” when he took a field sobriety test and allegedly refused to submit to a breath test. Initial reports — including TMZ original article, which broke the story — said Springsteen had cooperated fully with the officer.
Reps for Springsteen and the National Park Service did not immediately respond to Variety’s requests for comment.
Regardless, it’s impossible to excuse driving under the influence in any context, as reflected by Jeep’s statement after removing the Springsteen ad from YouTube.
“It would be inappropriate for us to comment on the details of a matter we have only read about and we cannot substantiate,” Jeep said in a statement to Variety. “But 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.”
No court date had been set for the matter at the time of this article’s publication.
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