A sober-looking Justin Bieber was released from jail Thursday following his arrest on charges of driving under the influence, driving with an expired license, and resisting arrest. Police say they stopped the 19-year-old pop star while he was drag-racing down a Miami Beach street before dawn.
Bieber was arrested after police said they saw him heading down a residential street in Miami Beach in a yellow Lamborghini at twice the speed limit. Officers say he had an expired license, was initially not cooperative when he was pulled over, and smelled of alcohol.
Police say Bieber later admitted that he had been drinking, smoking marijuana, and taking prescription medication. R&B singer Khalil Amir Sharieff was arrested in the same incident. He is charged with driving under the influence. Police said Khalil was driving a Ferrari.
Bieber and Khalil, wearing bright red jail fatigues, made their initial court appearance via a video link from jail. They remained silent while defense attorney Roy Black negotiated bond. Bieber’s bond was set at $2,500. Khalil’s bond was set at $1,000.
Black, a high-profile lawyer whose clients have included Rush Limbaugh and William Kennedy Smith, said he thought the case would proceed “hopefully as any other case would” in light of Bieber’s celebrity status.
Authorities say Bieber was arrested after police saw him and Khalil racing two luxury vehicles down the street at 4:09 a.m., with two other vehicles apparently being used to block off the area. Police say Bieber was clocked at 55 mph to 60 mph in a 30 mph zone.
Earlier Thursday, police chief Ray Martinez said at a news conference that the singer was initially not cooperative when the officer pulled him over. Martinez said the singer also had an invalid Georgia driver’s license and admitted to smoking marijuana, taking prescription medication, and drinking.
According to the arrest report, Bieber “had slow deliberate movements” and a look of stupor on his face when the officer ordered him to exit his vehicle. Bieber was placed under arrest after repeatedly refusing to put his hands on his vehicle so the officer could pat him down to look for weapons, the report said. It says he cursed several times at the officer and demanded to know why he was being arrested.
Bieber failed a field sobriety test and was taken to the Miami Beach police station for a Breathalyzer, police said. Results haven’t been released.
His publicist, Melissa Victor, did not offer an immediate comment.
The street where police say Bieber was racing in mid-Miami Beach is a four-lane residential street divided by a grass median dotted with palm trees. Along one side of the street are small apartment buildings, and on the other side are a high school, a youth center, a golf course, and a city firehouse.
It’s a short drive from the area to trendy South Beach, where celebrities are known to let loose. George Avilas, who lives nearby said he didn’t hear anything, but was not surprised to hear that people might be drag-racing.
“There’s so much partying in Miami Beach, it’s been known to happen,” he said. “It’s 4 o’clock in the morning, everybody is just getting out of the bars.”
Canadian-born Justin Bieber was only 15 when his platinum-selling debut My World was released. The singer from Ontario had placed second in a local singing contest two years earlier and began posting performances on YouTube. The videos caught the attention of a talent agent and eventually led to a recording contract.
He was positioned as clean-cut and charming — even singing for President Barack Obama and his family at Christmas — but problems began to multiply as he got older; Thursday’s arrest is just the latest in a series of troubling incidents.
Bieber has been accused of wrongdoing in California, but has never been arrested or charged. He is currently under investigation in a felony vandalism case after a neighbor reported the pop star threw eggs at his house and caused thousands of dollars of damage.
A neighbor had previously accused Bieber of spitting in his face, and a paparazzo called deputies after he said Bieber kicked him, but prosecutors declined to file charges in either instance. He was also accused of reckless driving in his neighborhood, but in October prosecutors refused to seek charges because it was unclear whether Bieber was driving.
His arrest in Miami is unlikely to affect the current investigation, which included nearly a dozen detectives searching Bieber’s home last week searching 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.
Under Florida law, people under the age of 21 are considered driving under the influence if they have a blood-alcohol content of .02 percent or more — a level Bieber could reach with one drink.
For a first DUI offense, there is no minimum sentence and a maximum of six months, a fine of $250 to $500, and 50 hours of community service. For anyone under 21, there is an automatic six-month license suspension.
A first conviction for drag racing carries a sentence of up to six months, a fine of $500 to $1,000, and a one-year license suspension.
Bieber’s arrival in Florida earlier this week also is under investigation. Authorities in the suburban Miami city of Opa-locka are investigating whether the singer was given a police escort when he landed Monday at the Opa-locka Executive Airport.
“The escort was unauthorized by police administration,” Assistant City Manager David Chiverton said.
Police escorts from the airport are not uncommon, but they must follow procedure because they involve city vehicles, Chiverton said.
“There’s a procedure,” Chiverton said. “These things must be approved, there’s a process.”
The Florida arrest likely won’t affect Bieber’s immigration status. According to U.S. immigration law, authorities do not revoke an individual’s visa unless the person has been convicted of a violent crime or been sentenced to more than one year imprisonment.
Immigration attorney Ira Kurzban says neither driving under the influence nor driving without a license can make an individual eligible for deportation. Nor would either of those offenses keep Bieber from being readmitted into the U.S.
“He’s not subject to deportation because of a DUI offense,” said Kurzban, “nor is driving with an expired license a deportable offense.”