MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – A judge set pop singer Justin Bieber’s bail at $2,500 Thursday after police say he drag-raced down a Miami Beach street while under the influence of alcohol. He was charged with driving under the influence, driving with an expired license and resisting arrest.
The Stratford, Ont.-raised performer was arrested after police said they saw him speeding down a residential street in Miami Beach in a yellow Lamborghini. Officers say he had an expired license, was initially not co-operative 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, and his bond was set at $1,000. Police said Khalil was driving a Ferrari.
Bieber and Khalil, wearing bright red jail fatigues, appeared in court via a video link from jail. They remained silent while defence attorney Roy Black negotiated bond.
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 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 co-operative 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, 19, 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 centre, a golf course and a city firehouse.
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, according to his official website. 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 neighbour reported the pop star threw eggs at his house and caused thousands of dollars of damage.
A neighbour 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 neighbourhood, 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 per cent or more — a level Bieber could reach with one drink.
For a first DUI offence, 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.
Police escorts from the airport are not uncommon, but they must follow procedure because they involve city vehicles, Assistant City Manager David Chiverton said..
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 offences keep Bieber from being readmitted into the U.S.