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 who 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 late Wednesday that at least softened 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 been driving 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 a shot of tequila offered by one of them, in full view of police officers.
“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.”
Reps for Springsteen and the National Park Service did not immediately respond to Variety’s requests for comment.
While the new details, if true, do make the incident seem less scandalous, 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.