Being famous may be cool, but drinking and driving is most definitely not. Although all too common, driving under the influence is a grievous offense that can endanger the lives of not only those behind the steering wheel but everyone on the road. Each year, impaired driving claims the lives of thousands across the world. And as it happens, once you are famous, getting charged with DUI almost appears to be a rite of passage.
So, most of the time, it does not even come as a huge shocker if a notoriously troubled celebrity gets pulled over for driving irresponsibly. And, even though drunken driving laws get tougher all the time, our silver screen heroes often throw their loft weight behind legislations to make their grave misconducts appear trifle. While some of these incidents are tragic, others are downright ridiculous and reflect the sheer disregard that some of these bigwigs harbour towards the system. According to statistics, every day, 28 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver – that is one death in every 51 minutes, yet our celebrities are far from mending their ways. Here’s looking at 17 of the most shameful celebrity DUI cases of all times.
The actress who gained popularity with FOX’s teen drama, The O.C, was driving on La Cienega Boulevard in West Hollywood in 2007, when she was stopped on suspicion of drunk driving. According to a sheriff’s press statement, deputies saw her vehicle straddling the lanes and failing to signal for a turn. “During Ms Barton’s detention, it was determined that she was an unlicensed driver and was driving under the influence of an alcoholic beverage,” the statement said. Mischa Barton spent about seven hours in the West Hollywood jail before being released on a $10,000 bail. Speaking on Ryan Seacrest’s radio show, she accepted: “Obviously, I’m 100 per cent responsible for my actions… I’m really disappointed in myself… I just don’t ever intend to do something this stupid again.”
In 2008, the Indiana Jones star was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving after an early morning accident in which he managed to injure his hand and knee, besides suffering a minor blow on his head. Shia LaBeouf was trying to make a left turn at a West Hollywood intersection when his pickup collided with another vehicle, rolling the truck over. “It was immediately apparent to officers responding on the scene that LaBeouf was intoxicated and he was subsequently placed under arrest,” an officer from the Los Angeles County Sheriff department said. The actor – booked for misdemeanour and DUI – was taken to a medical centre and treated for his injuries. Recently, he was arrested once again from Georgia for being drunk in public.
The Canadian actor was among the most prominent Hollywood stars during the 1990s, climbing up the popularity ladder with his performances in several lauded films – including the likes of Speed, The Devil’s Advocate and The Matrix Trilogy. However, in May 1993, the otherwise spotless Keanu Reeves was pulled over for drunk driving though he immediately confessed to avoid formal charges. In 2006, he was stopped again for running a red light and in 2007, he was slapped with another reckless driving charge for sideswiping a paparazzo. If reports are to be believed, one of his favourite activities from his early days was “demon riding” or driving without headlights at night! During one such night, Reeves allegedly crashed his motorcycle resulting in a few fractured ribs and a ruptured spleen.
In 2014, Amanda Bynes of Nickelodeon fame was arrested on a DUI charge when California Highway Patrol observed the actor stopping her white Mercedes Benz SUV for red light in the middle of an intersection. After being pulled over, she failed to pass a series of field sobriety tests. The arrest report noted Bynes’ “dishevelled appearance” but indicated her cooperativeness throughout the entire arrest process. She had been charged with a DUI earlier too in a 2012 incident in which the actor’s BMW had allegedly sideswiped a police cruiser in West Hollywood. The charge was dismissed in a plea deal that gave Bynes three years on probation, a requirement to attend an alcohol education course and pay a fine after she entered a no-contest plea to reckless driving.
In March 2007, the Keeping Up With The Kardashians’ star was arrested for driving under the influence. A year later, Khloe Kardashian turned herself in and reported to jail to serve time for violation of probation. She faced a sentence of up to 30 days and enrolment in an alcohol treatment programme within three weeks of her release from jail. However, she was released from prison in less than three hours later due to overcrowding! Speaking on The Tyra Banks Show regarding the matter, Khloe said: “I had to go to the hospital to see injured people who were either a drunk driver themselves or were hurt by someone… what I could have done is just unthinkable. I will never, ever do that again.”
In 2007, Disney darling Lindsay Lohan was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving after a brief car chase. Lohan, just been out of rehab at the time, had apparently “relapsed” and was receiving “medical care”, according to her attorney. The actress, who was wearing her alcohol-detection bracelet during the arrest, was booked for DUI, possession of [substance] and driving on a suspended license. She was driving a 2004 Yukon that did not belong to her and was chasing a 2007 Escalade being driven by the mother of her personal assistant, the police told People Online. Two breath analyser tests determined Lohan’s blood-alcohol level to be 0.12 per cent and 0.13 per cent respectively, much above the permissible limit of 0.8 per cent. The actor posted a $25,000 bail and was released from jail.
America’s sweetheart Reese Witherspoon and her husband Jim Toth were arrested in 2013 and briefly jailed after being pulled over under suspicion of drunken driving in Atlanta. According to Variety, the Big Little Lies star was handcuffed after disobeying instructions from the arresting officer. Police reports confirmed that the couple – who appeared dishevelled and reeked of alcohol – was stopped after weaving across a double line. Speaking about the incident to Glamour magazine, Witherspoon said: “I think it was a moment where people realised that I wasn’t exactly what they thought I was. It’s part of human nature. I made a mistake. We all make mistakes. The best you can do is say sorry and learn from it and move on.”
The police charged Justin Bieber with drunk driving, resisting arrest and driving without a valid license in 2014 when the pop star was seen driving a yellow Lamborghini in a race against a red Ferrari in a residential area along Miami beach. According to police reports obtained by the CNN, the cars were speeding at about 55 to 60 mph in a 30-mph zone. The arrest report also describes Bieber as having a “flushed face, bloodshot eyes and the odour of alcohol in his breath.” He was released from a Miami jail an hour after he made a brief appearance through a video link before a judge, who set a standard $2,500 bond on him. Later, he appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and vowed to clean up his act, telling the audiences, “I’m passionate about being better and growing.”
Lionel Richie’s daughter was arrested in December 2006 after witnesses reported seeing her black Mercedes Benz sport utility vehicle headed the wrong way on a freeway in Burbank. The California High Patrol told People Online that they found Nicole Richie’s car parked in the car pool lane. The reality show star was released after serving 82 minutes in jail “based on her sentence and federal guidelines,” the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy said. Richie pleaded guilty and avoided a potential year in jail because it was a second driving-under-the-influence conviction. In February 2003, she was arrested in Malibu and charged with possession of [substance], according to the Smoking Gun website. She was also charged for driving with a suspended license.
The former heavyweight champion was spotted driving erratically after leaving Scottsdale’s Pussycat Lounge. According to ESPN, Mike Tyson was stopped after his car almost struck a sheriff’s vehicle while leaving the club. An officer said that he saw the boxer wiping white substance off the dashboard of his black BMW and that his speech was slurred. Police also found [substance] in his pocket and in the car. Tyson told officers later that he used [substance] “whenever I can get my hands on it,” and that he preferred to smoke it in Marlboro cigarettes with the tobacco pulled out. He also admitted to having used antidepressants that day. He got 24 hours in jail and probation for drug possession. “I take responsibility for my actions,” Tyson told the judge and left the courthouse flanked by his followers.
In 2006, The Passion of the Christ actor was pulled over on Malibu’s famed Pacific Coast Highway after being clocked at nearly 145 kilometres per hour. There was an open bottle of tequila in the car. Mel Gibson, who was initially cooperative turned hostile after he was handcuffed and placed in the squad car and proceeded to spew anti-Semitic remarks to the arresting officer, who was Jewish. According to an extensive report published on the TMZ website, Gibson tried and escape, while claiming: “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.” He later apologised for his behaviour and said: “I acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested and said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable.”
In 2005, Backstreet Boys member, Nick Carter was arrested for alleged drunken driving. According to Billboard, Carter (then 25) was behind the wheel of a vehicle observed committing a traffic violation when the police stopped him. He was with friends at a restaurant in Huntington Beach and was stopped by the authorities after he pulled out of a parking structure and started driving on Main Street, as reported by the Smoking Gun website. The singer was given a sobriety test, which he failed before being booked on a misdemeanour DUI charge. According to police reports, “The officer that stopped him noticed some traffic violation was occurring. After conducting an investigation, they formed the opinion that he was under the influence.” He was released several hours later.
In 2003, the Fast and the Furious actress went to court facing eight misdemeanour charges based on two riving incidents – including hit and run and driving under the influence. The following year, Michelle Rodriguez pleaded no contest to three of the charges – hit and run, drunken driving and driving with suspended license. She did go to jail even if it was just for 48 hours and performed community service at the morgues of two New York hospitals. She even completed a three-month alcohol programme and was placed on probation for three years. However, come December 2005, she was again arrested by the police for DUI. She pleaded guilty and paid a fine of $500 and spent five days in jail.
According to a 1976 Maine police document, George W Bush was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. The former president of the United States, who was 30 years old at the time, was pulled over the Labour Day weekend from near his family home in Kennebunkport. He pleaded guilty to the misdemeanour DUI charge, paid a fine of $150 and had his driving privileges briefly revoked in the state of Maine. During a campaign rally, Bush admitted to the incident, saying: “I’m not proud of that. I made some mistakes. I occasionally drank too much, and I did that night. I learned my lesson.” He also clarified that he was not jailed after the arrest, because he paid the fine upfront.
Tiger Woods was arrested again for DUI, earlier this year, about 15 miles from his home in Florida. Officers found him unconscious in his Mercedes Benz, parked awkwardly on the side of the road with damages on the driver’s side. This was the first time he had been in trouble since 2009, when he had ploughed his SUV into a tree and a fire hydrant outside his previous home. He told the police that he was taking painkillers – that treat anxiety and insomnia – to cope with his fourth back surgery. Though no alcohol was found in his system, a toxicology report showed that the golfer had five different drugs in his system at the time. Woods has pleaded guilty and agreed to enter a diversion programme.
A couple of years back, the New Zealand police pulled over the Star Trek actor and fined him $79. They also had his NZ driving license suspended for six months. Chris Pine had reportedly consumed four vodka shots and was on his way back from a pub after attending a party thrown to mark the end of the filming of Z for Zachariah. The police told the court that a blood test found Pine’s blood-alcohol level to be 0.11 per cent, which is over the legal New Zealand limit of 0.8 per cent. A statement issued by the said bar, however, said: “Chris Pine did not appear to staff to be intoxicated to a level where invention might have been warranted.”
According to LAPD, Paris Hilton was arrested back in 2006 for “driving erratically”. The heiress, who had been driving her silver Mercedes Benz SLR in Hollywood at the time was made to take a breath analyser test which showed her blood alcohol level to be 0.08 – the minimum required for a DUI arrest in California. She was briefly handcuffed but discharged soon after to be driven home by her publicist. Hours after her release, Hilton defended herself to Radio host Ryan Seacrest, saying, “It was nothing.” She claimed that she had had one margarita at an event that evening and was on her way to a fast-food restaurant because she was hungry. “I’m in my SLR, which is a little fast, so maybe I was speeding a little bit and I got pulled over,” she said.
Sources: CNN, ABC, YouTube, New York Daily News, Billboard