I never thought the day would come where I would have to address Justin Bieber in this forum. But I am a DUI lawyer and, for whatever reason, this 19 year-old’s misdemeanor arrest is international news. So here it is.
Justin Bieber was arrested and charged in Miami Beach, Florida, with DUI, driving with an expired driver’s license more than 6 months, and resisting an officer without violence.
The DUI is punishable by a maximum of 180 days in jail. The expired license charge is punishable by a maximum of 60 days in jail. The resisting without violence charge is punishable by a maximum of 1 year in jail.
First and foremost, Bieber is not eligible for Miami-Dade’s Back On Track Program. This is because he was not only charged with DUI but also resisting. Program requirements state that if you are arrested for a secondary charge, you are not eligible for the program.
I do not expect Bieber to be treated any better nor any worse than your run-of-the-mill defendant. He will likely be offered the statutory minimums which do not include any jail time for a first DUI. I know the media will think that Bieber got some great deal due to his celebrity, but in reality, all first-time DUI offenders are offered the same thing unless their case has unusual circumstances.
The first DUI mandatory minimums in Florida include a mandatory conviction (adjudication), 6 months of probation, DUI school, a 6-month driver’s license suspension, fines, and community service.
For the charge of resisting an officer without violence, the state will probably extend an offer of a withhold of adjudication (no conviction) and impose the payment of statutory court costs.
Bieber apparently submitted to a breath test, which resulted in .04 reading. For a person 21 or over, that would not constitute legal impairment. However, Bieber is 19. Anything .02 or higher is considered impaired.
It is also alleged that Bieber admitted to using drugs and drinking alcohol prior to driving. It is further alleged that he submitted to field sobriety tests and failed.
Bieber was found racing sports cars on a public street.
Whether this case results in plea bargain or it goes to trial, I fully expect the court and the State Attorney’s Office to treat Bieber like any other criminal defendant.
Eric Matheny is a Miami and Broward DUI lawyer.