FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Even though police say Justin Bieber’s breath tests registered less than Florida’s legal threshold for alcohol intoxication after his arrest on Miami Beach this week, the teen pop star was charged with DUI.
A driver who has not had a single drink can be cited for DUI, because impairment can come from a prescription or over-the-counter medication.
“It used to be called drunk driving, but DUI represents driving under the influence,” Miami Beach Police Sgt. Bobby Hernandez said.
To determine if a driver has used other substances, a police drug-recognition expert will measure body temperature, blood pressure, the shape of a person’s pupils and other factors.
“The only reason we called in a drug-recognition expert in the Bieber case is because he blew under a .08,” Hernandez said. “Drivers who are busted may say they just took a Xanax. And you know what? You can’t drive in that condition. Prescription manufacturers provide warnings about it.”
Social media followed the 19-year-old singer at South Florida nightclubs, a strip club and riding in a Lamborghini before his arrest attracted worldwide attention and reactions from fans and non-Beliebers, too.
Cops stopped Bieber’s car and a friend driving a Ferrari at 4 a.m. Thursday on suspicion of racing 55 mph to 60 mph in a 30 mph zone. Bieber told an officer he was not drunk, an arrest report said.
“During the investigation, Mr. Bieber made statements that he had consumed some alcohol, had been smoking marijuana and consumed some prescription medication,” Miami Beach Police Chief Raymond Martinez said Thursday, adding that Bieber told police he had had a beer.
Bieber did not perform field sobriety tests to standard and agreed to the breath tests and a drug evaluation that included giving a urine sample that will take several weeks for a county lab to analyze, according to Hernandez.
Bieber told police that his mother dispensed his medication, for an unknown purpose, Hernandez said.
“She is not in trouble,” Hernandez said. “He might be legally prescribed something.”
Bieber also was charged with resisting arrest without violence and having an expired Georgia driver’s license. His lawyer Roy Black declined to comment.
Bieber tweeted his first comment since the arrest. At around 7 p.m. Friday he told his fans, “You are all worthy no matter what anyone says. Be strong. God is with us all. My Beliebers changed my life. I will forever be grateful.”
Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Grieco said Bieber’s visit prompted discussions in City Hall.
“Young celebrities come down, want to drive their fast cars, run around and be the man,” said Grieco, a former prosecutor who has also defended celebrities in DUI cases. “The smart thing is to get a driver and go out and have a good time.”
Grieco said that he has been told that Bieber was supposed to perform at one of the city’s clubs, but did not.
“Other than that, they’re not supposed to be in the club if they’re under 21,” Greico said.
Kids gathered at The Orchid House where Bieber was reportedly staying on Miami Beach. Said Catalina Cardona, 12, from Argentina, “I think what he did was wrong, but I’m not gonna stop loving him.”