Bruce Springsteen pleaded guilty Wednesday to drinking with fans at a New Jersey park — but dodged charges of DWI and reckless driving because prosecutors said he wasn’t drunk enough during the November incident.
The disposition in the high-profile case was announced during The Boss’ arraignment on the three misdemeanor charges stemming from his Nov. 14 arrest at Gateway National Recreation Area in Sandy Hook.
“I had two small shots of tequila,” the “Born in the USA” singer admitted in his signature raspy voice during the virtual hearing, as he copped to a single count of drinking in a closed area.
Federal prosecutors, however, dismissed the DWI and reckless driving charges, noting that Springsteen’s blood alcohol content was a measly 0.02 — far below the state’s legal limit while driving of 0.08.
“It’s actually low enough that the defendant would be considered presumptively not impaired under New Jersey law,” said Assistant US Attorney Adam Baker. “We do look to New Jersey law as persuasive guidance.”
Baker also noted that while Springsteen, 71, refused to take a preliminary breathalyzer at the park, that test is not actually required by law. “He did submit to the legally required breath test when he was at the ranger station,” Barker told Judge Anthony Mautone.
Springsteen was charged in federal enclave court after a park ranger caught him downing the shots with a group of adoring fans who caught the rocker passing by on his motorcycle. He has no other criminal history, authorities noted.
Mautone said he would impose a $540 fine on the star, calling it an “appropriate” punishment in the case.
The judge asked how long it would take for the Grammy winner to cough up the cash — prompting his lawyer, Mitchell Ansell, to smirk.
“I think I can pay that immediately, Your Honor,” Springsteen replied.
He has until next Wednesday to do so.
All three charges carried up to $5,000 in fines and a 6-month term of imprisonment.
Springsteen’s scheduled Zoom arraignment attracted nearly 170 spectators online — much to Mautone’s ire. “I really don’t think we need to make it accessible to the entire universe,” the jurist grumbled before the start of the 20-minute hearing. “At 11 o’clock, we’re going to turn off access and then we’ll begin.”