Springsteen ordered to pay $540 for drinking on Sandy Hook
Charges against rock star Bruce Springsteen for drunken driving and reckless driving related to an incident in November on Sandy Hook have been dropped.
But the singer-songwriter pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to the charge of consuming alcohol in a closed area, and will have to pay $540 to satisfy the court.
On a Zoom call before a federal magistrate judge, the Monmouth County resident said he should be able to pay the fine "immediately."
The Class B misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and six months in prison. Springsteen's lawyer, Mitchell Ansell, noted his client was appearing before the court with "no prior criminal history whatsoever."
“He’s accepted full responsibility for his actions on November 14th, 2020,” Ansell said.
During the remote hearing, Springsteen said he had "two small shots of tequila" near the Sandy Hook Lighthouse in Gateway National Recreation Area, which is federal property.
Referring to Springsteen's driving record that dates back to 1973, which includes three "violations," Judge Anthony Mautone said he's convinced that "nothing but a fine" is appropriate in this case.
"Rarely would you see a driver's abstract so devoid of any entries, as I see before me," Mautone said.
Mautone imposed a $500 fine, and Springsteen will also have to cover $40 in fees.
“Mr. Springsteen — I need to ask you how long you need to pay that fine,” Mautone said towards the end of the hearing.
“I think I can pay that immediately, your honor,” Springsteen responded.
The U.S. Government noted it doesn't believe it could sustain its burden of proof related to the original drunken driving and reckless driving charges.
Springsteen refused to take a preliminary breathalyzer test, but that test is not required by law, Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Baker said. Springsteen did, however, allow for a test at the ranger station, Baker said, and recorded a blood alcohol content of 0.02 — well below New Jersey’s legal limit.
Under New Jersey law, a defendant with a BAC of 0.02 would be considered “presumptively not impaired.” Federal law does not recognize that presumption, but the federal government looked to New Jersey’s laws to reach its decision to drop charges, Baker said.
Reports from the scene indicate an officer witnessed Springsteen take a shot of tequila and then get on his motorcycle.
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.