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DWI Lessons from Timberlake arrest

Eight Lessons from the Timberlake Arrest for DWI

DWI Lessons Learned from the Justin Timberlake Arrest

On June 18, 2024, *NSYNC alum Justin Timberlake was arrested in the Hamptons for driving while intoxicated (DWI). There are a number of lessons that can be learned from Timberlake’s arrest.  In this article, we’ll cover them so you’ll hopefully you’ll be better prepared if you are stopped on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.

Timberlake’s DWI Arrest

Timberlake was driving his 2025 BMW X7 when he failed to stop at a stop sign at the corner of Madison Street and Jermain Avenue in Sag Harbor, New York. He also swerved twice into the opposite lane of traffic. The police stopped Timberlake at 12:37 AM.

justin timberlake travel before arrest

Timberlake admitted to coming from the American Hotel where he had one drink. He said he was following friends home.

The police reported he couldn’t focus while the police were speaking to him or while he was searching for his registration. They noted other signs of intoxication: Timberlake had bloodshot and glassy eyes, a strong odor of alcohol on his breath, slow speech, and unsteady movements. They also reported he did poorly on the field sobriety tests and refused to take a breath test – three times in 40 minutes.

Following his arrest, Timberlake was processed and held overnight before being arraigned and released without bail the next morning. Timberlake was officially charged with one count of DWI and cited for failing to stop at a stop sign and failing to stay in his lane. Timberlake is scheduled to appear in court again on July 26, 2024.

Can You Be Arrested After Having Just One Drink?

Timberlake says he only had one drink. There’s a lot to break down in that statement.

First, the most common answers to whether or not someone has been drinking include:

  1. “Just a bit.”
  2. “A little”
  3. “A couple of drinks”
  4. “Just one.”

It may have been one drink, it may not have been. The bartender at the American Hotel backs him up. Others report Timberlake was “wasted” before he left the restaurant.

Lesson 1: Don’t admit anything.

In most cases, the police will know little more than what the driver tells them. However, officers can do the work required to get more information. We’ve had cases where officers tracked down all the drinks and all the places a driver was at, but that type of investigative work would be unusual for a misdemeanor.

Lesson 2: Don’t assume one drink is one drink.

Timberlake mentioned to police that he had consumed a Vesper martini before his arrest for DWI. The Vesper martini, popularized by the James Bond novels, is a potent cocktail made from Lillet Blanc, Tanqueray gin, and Grey Goose vodka, shaken over ice served with a thick twist of lemon rind. In other words, this particular drink is made from all alcohol, without any non-alcoholic mixer.

According to The Daily Beast, the Vesper contains 4 ounces of liquor.

standard sized drinks

A standard-size drink is 1.5 fl oz of distilled spirit. So, one Vesper, made to the original recipe, would be about 2.5 standard drinks.

Lesson 3: Don’t assume one drink can’t get you over the legal limit.

Timberlake has reportedly weighed between 170 and 197 lbs in recent years. If he consumed the martini on an empty stomach, he could easily be over the legal limit in under an hour and probably remain there for about an hour before dropping below the legal limit. The absorption rate of alcohol varies from person to person and is based on several other factors, including what you have in your stomach. Elimination rates of alcohol are relatively constant for a particular person. In other words, what you have in your stomach doesn’t affect how quickly the alcohol absorbed into your cells is eliminated.

Lesson 4: Refuse to give a specimen voluntarily.

Reports also say that Timberlake refused to give a specimen of his breath on at least three occasions. This was absolutely the correct thing to do. If you provide a breath specimen, you are doing so voluntarily. In many jurisdictions, if the officer believes he has probable cause that a person was driving while intoxicated.

In New York State, officers can obtain a warrant for a blood test during a routine DWI stop under certain circumstances. New York, like many states, has an implied consent law. This means that by driving on New York roads, drivers implicitly agree to chemical tests of breath, blood, urine, or saliva to determine alcohol or drug content if arrested for DWI. If a driver refuses a breathalyzer test, officers may seek a warrant for a blood test.

Timberlake refused three times over the course of about 40 minutes to take a chemical test of his blood alcohol content.

According to the complaint, Timberlake said, “No, I’m not doing a chemical test.” The singer reiterated twice, “I refuse.”

It is unclear whether officers obtained a warrant for Timberlake’s blood. There has been no reporting about a possible blood draw warrant or transport to have the blood draw administered.

If the officer gets a warrant to draw your blood, your attorney may still be able to keep the specimen out if there is a problem with the warrant.

Lesson 5: The odor of alcohol tells an incomplete story

Officers claim all the typical signs of intoxication: he smelled like alcohol, had slow speech, and had unsteady movements. It is virtually impossible to read a DWI report without seeing the officer has checked all of these boxes. The reality is the odor of alcohol tells you nothing about how much a person had to drink. Alcohol smells like alcohol. Whether you have a sip or 10 drinks, the strength of the odor of alcohol has nothing to do with how much the person drank. Similarly, whether a person’s speech or movements at 12:30 in the morning or not is subjective. So, while these are commonly listed factors in DWI reports, not much can be read into this.

Lesson 6: Limit your interaction with the police to only the necessary statements.

Identify yourself when asked and then decline to answer other questions or do field sobriety tests.

Lesson 7: The less you say about what happened, the better.

There have been numerous reports of Timberlake seemingly making jokes about his arrest. The reality is the difference between a DWI and intoxication manslaughter is just the grace of God. It is generally not a good idea to joke about a bad decision with criminal consequences. It’s important to understand that, what you say and how you act after your arrest, will impact the outcome of your case – especially if you’re a public figure.

You may think, well, most of us aren’t in the public spotlight, so this doesn’t apply to us. You’d be wrong. On too many occasions, bond officers and courts have gotten calls from people unrelated to the case but thought the court should be aware of a statement or behavior while a person is on bond. It’s even worse when they have proof – whether they took a video or, worse, captured something from your own social media.

Let your actions be what people focus on. Whether you are guilty or not, it makes sense to get ahead of this. Take self-help classes, volunteer in a meaningful way, and if you have to make a statement, make one that addresses the seriousness of both the charge, but how much worse it could have been.

What Will Happen at the Next Court Hearing?

The next court appearance will be on July 26, 2024. This will be a virtual appearance, and Timberlake will not appear in person. It is also going to be a non-substantive setting. In other words, the judge will ensure the defense has received any requested materials – which should be all the discovery on the case. Prosecutors may confer with defense counsel and make an initial offer.

Lesson 8: Be prepared for your DWI case to take time to be resolved.

It’s rare for cases to get resolved at the initial court settings. Witnesses also generally do not appear at these types of settings. Most DWI cases will not get resolved for the better part of a year.

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