Drunk driving is a dangerous and irresponsible act that risks people’s lives whenever a drunk gets behind the wheel. Despite knowing this, thousands of inebriated people reach for their keys daily.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “About 1.5 million people were arrested in a given year for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Every day, about 37 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes — that’s one person every 39 minutes. In 2021, 13,384 people died in alcohol-impaired driving traffic deaths — a 14% increase from 2020.” Let’s look at some celebrities who have been busted for drunk driving.
1. Mel Gibson (July 2006)
Oscar-winning actor Mel Gibson’s reputation took a significant hit in July 2006 after being arrested for drunk driving in Malibu, California, with a blood-alcohol level of 0.12 percent. He also made anti-Semitic remarks to the arresting officers, further damaging his image. Gibson later pleaded no contest to the charges, resulting in three years of probation, mandatory alcohol education, and community service.
2. Justin Bieber (January 2014)
In January 2014, pop superstar Justin Bieber found himself in hot water when he was arrested for drunk driving and drag racing in Miami Beach. The incident marked a low point in his career, as he was also charged with resisting arrest and having an expired driver’s license.
Bieber’s legal team negotiated a plea deal, resulting in a lesser charge. He underwent anger management classes and made a donation to a charity. Did the punishment fit the crime?
3. Lindsay Lohan (May 2007)
Mean Girls and Freaky Friday actress Lindsay Lohan is no stranger to legal troubles. In May 2007, she crashed her car while intoxicated. The incident led to her arrest, probation, and a day in jail. Less than two weeks after her rehab release in July 2007, Lindsay Lohan was arrested for another DUI, felony possession of cocaine, and driving with a suspended license.
4. Paris Hilton (September 2006)
Socialite and reality TV star Paris Hilton found herself in handcuffs in September 2006 after being pulled over for driving under the influence in Los Angeles. Hilton’s arrest led to a suspended license and probation, and she was also required to attend an alcohol education program. The incident became a media sensation.
5. Nicole Richie (December 2006)
Speaking of Paris Hilton, her former BFF and The Simple Life co-star Nicole Richie faced legal trouble in December 2006 when she was arrested for driving under the influence. Richie was spotted driving the wrong way on a freeway in L.A. The incident led to a brief jail sentence, probation, and mandatory alcohol education.
6. Heather Locklear (September 2008)
Melrose Place star Heather Locklear’s DUI arrest in 2008 was a notable event in her career. The incident was part of a larger struggle with substance abuse, prompting her to seek treatment. Unfortunately, despite 20+ stints in rehab, sources confess that Locklear is drinking again and has expressed wanting to go back to rehab.
7. Amanda Bynes (April 2012)
Former child star Amanda Bynes made headlines in April 2012 when she was arrested for drunk driving after sideswiping a police car in West Hollywood. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of her legal or substance abuse problems.
The What a Girl Wants star has bipolar disorder and was recently placed on a psychiatric hold in March 2023 after roaming the streets of Los Angeles naked. She currently resides in a mental health facility.
9. Nick Nolte (September 2002)
On September 11, 2002, actor Nick Nolte’s DUI arrest made headlines. The incident showcased the repercussions of driving under the influence, regardless of one’s fame. Nolte’s mugshot became infamous, and he eventually pled no contest, receiving probation, alcohol counseling, and community service as part of his sentence.
10. Robert Downey Jr. (July 1999)
Robert Downey Jr. was no stranger to legal troubles and substance abuse. His DUI arrest in 1999 was part of a challenging period in his life. He served a year in jail, entered rehab, and began his journey to sobriety. Now, he is a recovery rockstar who has gone on to become the best Iron Man the Marvel Cinematic Universe will ever know.
11. Mike Tyson (December 2006)
Did you know that former boxing champion Mike Tyson was arrested for DUI in 2006? He served 24 hours in jail, received three years of probation, and attended an alcohol education program.
12. Shia LaBeouf (July 2008)
Transformers star Shia LaBeouf’s run-in with the law occurred in July 2008 when he was involved in a car accident while intoxicated. LaBeouf’s injuries required surgery and was subsequently charged with drunk driving. The incident forced a delay in filming for his movie at the time, emphasizing the personal and professional consequences of such behavior.
13. Kiefer Sutherland (September 2007)
The Lost Boys and 24 actor Kiefer Sutherland faced a real-life legal drama in September 2007 when he was arrested for drunk driving in Los Angeles. Sutherland, who had a previous DUI conviction, received a 48-day jail sentence as part of his plea deal. The incident shed light on the consequences of repeat offenses, even for celebrities.
14. George W. Bush (September 1976)
On September 4, 1976, former President George W. Bush was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol near his family’s summer home in Maine. Bush admitted his guilt, was fined $150, and had his driving license briefly suspended. On a happier note, Bush has been sober since 1986, after waking up to an unbearable hangover the day after his 40th birthday.
15. Khloé Kardashian (March 2007)
American personality star Khloé Kardashian was arrested for DUI in 2007. She spent three hours in jail before receiving probation and mandatory alcohol education.
16. Vince Neil (June 2010)
Did you know Mötley Crüe frontman Vince Neil pleaded guilty to manslaughter and drunk driving in a 1984 crash in Redondo Beach, California, that killed his passenger, Nicholas Dingley, a 24-year-old drummer with the group Hanoi Rocks?
His blood alcohol content was around 0.17. Yet, he was sentenced to 30 days in jail but only served 15. He also had 200 hours of community service. Additionally, a week after announcing his sobriety in 2010, he was arrested for a DUI and did 10 out of his 15-day sentence.
17. Tim Allen (October 1997)
Home Improvement and Last Man Standing comedic star Tim Allen’s DUI arrest in 1997 was a turning point in his life. He served 28 days in jail, completed probation, and attended alcohol counseling. He’s been sober for 24+ years and never looked back.
18. Tiger Woods (May 2017)
Golf legend Tiger Woods was arrested for DUI in 2017. Though he did not serve jail time, he entered a diversion program, spent 50 hours in community service, paid a $250 fine, and underwent mandatory drug tests.
19. Michael Phelps (September 2014)
Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer Michael Phelps has been convicted of two DUI offenses. Phelps was arrested for a DUI in 2004 after running a stop sign. He was fined and sentenced to 18 months of probation. The second time he was arrested in Baltimore on suspicion of DUI in 2014, where he was given a one-year suspended sentence and ordered to complete probation.
20. Michelle Rodriguez (December 2005)
Fast & Furious and Avatar star Michelle Rodriguez faced legal troubles in December 2005 when she was arrested for drunk driving in Hawaii. The incident led to 65 hours in jail, community service, and mandatory alcohol education for Rodriguez.
21. Mischa Barton (December 2007)
The O.C. actress Mischa Barton was arrested in Los Angeles for driving under the influence, possession of narcotics, and driving without a valid license in December 2007 after being pulled over for driving under the influence in Los Angeles. Barton’s arrest shed light on the challenges that young stars sometimes face when navigating the pressures of fame.
22. Chris Klein (June 2010)
American Pie actor Chris Klein was arrested for drunk driving in February 2005 and June 2010. The incidents marked a troubling chapter for Klein, who subsequently sought treatment for alcohol addiction. His journey toward recovery underscores the importance of seeking help when facing personal struggles.
23. Jaime Pressly (January 2011)
Actress Jaime Pressly, known for her role in the TV series My Name Is Earl, faced legal consequences in January 2011 when she was arrested for drunk driving in Santa Monica. Her blood alcohol content was at .22 in a state where legally drunk registers .08. Pressly was sentenced to three years probation and a six-month alcohol education program.
24. Vince Vaughn (June 2018)
Wedding Crashers and Couple’s Retreat star Vince Vaughn was arrested for DUI in 2018. He pleaded no contest and faced no jail time. However, he was sentenced to three years of unsupervised probation and three months of alcohol education classes.
25. Macaulay Culkin (September 2004)
Former child star Macaulay Culkin, famous for his role in the Home Alone movie franchise, faced legal trouble in September 2004 when he was arrested for possession of marijuana and a controlled substance without a prescription. He was given a deferred one-year sentence on each charge and fined $540.
26. Bobby Brown (March 2012)
R&B singer Bobby Brown’s DUI arrest in 2012 added to his history of legal troubles and substance abuse. He was sentenced to three years’ informal probation, one day in jail, and ordered to participate in a 90-day alcohol education program and pay a $390 fine.
27. John Stamos (June 2015)
Full House heartthrob John Stamos was arrested for driving under the influence of a drug in June 2015. He pled no contest to a misdemeanor count of DUI and was sentenced to three years probation and counseling.
28. Craig Robinson (June 2008)
The Office and Pineapple Express star, Craig Robinson, was pulled over in 2008 for a traffic violation in Culver City, California. An officer said the actor had ecstasy and methamphetamine. Officials said he was under the influence of amphetamines, cocaine, and cannabis. Robinson was charged with drug possession and misdemeanor DUI.
He entered a plea of guilty. The plea only admitted to possession of ecstasy. All other charges were dropped! Robinson received no jail time but was required to complete a drug diversion program. Eighteen months later, all charges would be dropped.
29. Kevin Hart (April 2013)
Police observed Kevin Hart speeding down a freeway at 90 mph in his black Mercedes, weaving across traffic lanes and almost running into a gas tanker truck in 2013. Kevin was then pulled over and given a field sobriety test, which he failed. He was ultimately sentenced to three years probation.
30. Keanu Reeves (May 1993)
This revelation was a sobering discovery since Keanu Reeves is the poster boy of humanity. But on May 5, 1993, The Matrix and John Wick superstar faced legal consequences when he was arrested for DUI in Los Angeles. Despite his fame, Reeves was not exempt from the law. He pled guilty, received a fine, and was required to attend alcohol education classes.
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Elizabeth Ervin is the owner of Sober Healing. She is a freelance writer passionate about opioid recovery and has celebrated breaking free since 09-27-2013. She advocates for mental health awareness and encourages others to embrace healing, recovery, and spirituality.