NEW JERSEY – The Boss had his day in court and it probably won’t be remembered as one of his “Glory Days” but it wasn’t that painful. He received a $540 fine that included court costs for drinking alcohol in a national park.
The reason for singer/legend Bruce Springsteen’s virtual court appearance was due to his being charged with drunken driving in November. The 71-year-old rocker received a ticket after taking a shot with fans while he was sitting on his motorcycle in Sandy Hook.
Springsteen lives in a large estate in Colts Neck and was charged on November 14, 2020 with operating a vehicle while impaired, reckless driving and consuming alcohol in a closed area on Sandy Hook, in the Gateway National Recreation Area in Monmouth County.
The first two charges were dismissed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Baker. Springsteen’s attorney Mitchell J. Ansell and the singer agreed to a guilty plea before Judge Anthony R. Mauton for the third charge.
Drunken driving and traffic violations at Sandy Hook are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. District Court in Newark. It was noted that Springsteen’s blood alcohol level was .02 – well below the state’s legal limit of .08. Judge Mautone noted that the Freehold native had no prior experiences with the law.
Springsteen has made no public statements concerning the incident. The impact of the charges caused Jeep to suspend the airing of a two-minute political film Springsteen made for the automobile company that debuted on the Super Bowl.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving said they were “outraged” to learn of the situation and leaders of that organization issued a statement that they were upset that Springsteen’s arrest had not been made public by authorities in the state until after the Super Bowl commercial aired where he was seen driving a Jeep.
The Garden State icon allegedly reeked of alcohol and initially refused to take a breath test according to a Fox News report on February 11. A park ranger observed him take a shot of tequila prior to revving up his motorcycle. Springsteen told the Ranger who arrested him that he had two shots of tequila in the last 20 minutes. The ranger also reported Springsteen smelled strongly of alcohol, was visibly swaying back and forth and his eyes were observed as glassy.
Springsteen said in the virtual court proceeding that he drank two “small shots of tequila” and was aware that this was prohibited in that national park.
Baker said, “I want to further note with a blood alcohol content of .02 it is actually low enough that the defendant would actually be presumed not impaired under New Jersey law. We do look to New Jersey law as presumptive guidance and useful in reaching our determination.”
“I can’t believe the State could prove its burden of truth so I agree with you totally Mr. Baker,” the judge said regarding the decision to dismiss the first two charges.
Judge Mautone noted that two years ago, Sandy Hook, a 6-mile recreation area with family beaches, banned alcohol due to numerous alcohol violations during the time span between 2016 to 2018. For many years, it was the last beach to drink alcohol on.
The judge said based on the evidence and his past record which was devoid of any major violations, “I am convinced that a fine is all that is appropriate in this case and so I will impose a $500 fine and the additional (court) fees comes to $40 so that comes to $540.” He gave him until March 3 to make payment on the fine.
Springsteen once owned a home in Rumson which is a short distance from Sandy Hook. He has also filmed music videos in that federal park including “Tunnel of Love” that came out in 1987 and “Hunter of Invisible Game” in 2014.
At one point during the morning’s proceeding Springsteen was asked if he were a citizen of the United States and he responded yes, missing the opportunity to say he was “Born in the USA.”