Bruce Springsteen DWI potentially more serious because alleged offense occurred at a national park: expert

The musician allegedly smelled of alcohol when a policeman gave him a field sobriety test, which he failed

Music legend Bruce Springsteen was arrested for DWI in November while at a park in his home state of New Jersey, Fox News confirmed on Wednesday.

According to TMZ, which first reported the arrest, the 71-year-old is expected to appear in a New Jersey court sometime within the next few weeks. But is jail time likely for the beloved musician? 

Philip Dubé, a Los Angeles County deputy public defender, told Fox News that the "U.S. attorney has the power to prosecute anyone for acts committed on federal land where the violations are not considered illegal under federal law but are considered criminal under the laws of the surrounding state."

DWI is not illegal in the Gateway National Recreational Area, but it is illegal in the state of New Jersey and the "U.S. attorney can file charges in federal court based on violations of state law."

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Dubé added how Springsteen could see a variety of criminal consequences. 

"Normally, a first time DWI only carries up to 90 days in jail in New Jersey. However, the federal statute exposes Mr. Springsteen to one year and three months in jail," he explained. "Obviously, most first-time offenders serve no jail time for misdemeanor DWI but do suffer some criminal consequences."

If convicted, Springsteen could pay mandatory fines, face suspension of his license and a community service mandate, and may have to participate in an alcohol awareness program. 

Bruce Springsteen was arrested in November for DWI while at a park in New Jersey. 

Bruce Springsteen was arrested in November for DWI while at a park in New Jersey.  (Brad Barket/Invision/AP, File)

San Diego criminal defense attorney David P. Shapiro, who is not working on the Springsteen case, told Fox News that jailtime is not a "realistic possibility."

"Although the case may be heard in federal court in Newark, due to the alleged offense occurred at a national park in Sandy Hook, Mr. Springsteen can expect a sentence mirroring what he would receive if convicted in state court: a fine, potential license suspension depending on his blood alcohol content, DUI classes, and installation of an ignition interlock device on any vehicle he owns or operates. A lot will hinge on the basis for the initial detention by law enforcement and Mr. Springsteen’s blood alcohol content," Shapiro said. 

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The attorney explained that Springsteen's "body of work, and philanthropic service to our nation, age, coupled with the claim he was cooperative throughout the encounter with law enforcement, should certainly help as a strong mitigant when it comes time to determine the appropriate punishment, assuming a conviction."

The Jeep® brand and Bruce Springsteen collaborated to launch "The Middle" Big Game campaign

The Jeep® brand and Bruce Springsteen collaborated to launch "The Middle" Big Game campaign ( Jeep®)

The incident in question took place at the Gateway National Recreation Area, a public affairs officer confirmed to Fox News on Wednesday.

"On November 14, 2020, Bruce Springsteen was arrested in Gateway National Recreation Area and received three citations; DWI, reckless driving, and consuming alcohol in a closed area," the statement reads.

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The public affairs spokesperson added that Springsteen was "cooperative throughout the process."

News of Springsteen's arrest comes just days after the musician starred in a Super Bowl LV ad for Jeep calling on Americans to "reunite" and find unity after a divisive year.

The car company has since pulled the commercial from YouTube and its other social media channels. 

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A rep for Jeep owner Stellantis told Fox News: "It would be inappropriate for us to comment on the details of a matter we have only read about and we cannot substantiate. 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."

Fox News' Melissa Roberto and Gary Gastelu contributed to this report.