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Springsteen's Federal DWI Hearing Streams Live For Reporters This Week

Bruce Springsteen joins Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers for a 2-hour show at the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park.
Bruce Springsteen joins Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers for a 2-hour show at the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park. Photo Credit: Jerry DeMarco

Bruce Springsteen’s federal court appearance on DWI charges Wednesday will be streamed live via Zoom for the news media.

A part-time U.S. magistrate judge based in Newark will handle the case in what is known as enclave court because the arrest was made on federal property at Sandy Hook.

Members of the media must follows U.S. District Court rules that strictly prohibit "broadcasting, photographing, recording or otherwise transmitting court proceedings," including live streaming and rebroadcasting.

Violators could face contempt of court charges in addition to losing federal court privileges.

Neither Springsteen, nor his attorney, Mitchell Ansell of Ocean County, have commented publicly about the Nov. 14 incident, which only just came to light less than two weeks ago.

The federal park ranger who arrested him that at the Gateway National Recreation Area that sunny Saturday afternoon said that Springsteen “strongly” smelled of alcohol, had “glassy eyes” and was “visibly swaying back and forth” during a DWI field test.

Springsteen also refused a breath test, Park Service Officer R.L. Hayes wrote on a trio of summonses, one of them for reckless driving.

“The Boss,” 71, reportedly was chatting with fans that sunny Saturday on the federally-owned, six-mile-long barrier split in Middletown between the Atlantic Ocean and Lower New York Bay.

Hayes said he saw Springsteen “consume a shot of Patron tequila and then get on his [Triumph] motorcycle and start the engine.”

He said he approached Springsteen and “informed him alcohol is prohibited at Sandy Hook,” while noticing that “the Patron bottle that the shot was poured out of was completely empty (750 ml),” according to the summonses on file in U.S. District Court in Newark.

The officer said he asked the veteran singer-songwriter if he was leaving and he “confirmed that he was going to drive out of the park.”

Springsteen “smelt strongly of alcohol coming off his person and had glassy eyes,” Hayes wrote.

He also “claimed that he had two shots of tequila in the last 20 minutes,” the summonses say.

SEE: Springsteen Was 'Visibly Swaying,' Refused Breath Test, Federal Summonses Say

Federal park offenses are prosecuted by an assistant U.S. attorney before a U.S. District Court magistrate rather than to a jury. Defendants are sometimes, but not always, required to attend.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the U.S., the hearings have been held via videoconference.

The judge Wednesday will be Magistrate Judge Anthony R. Mautone. Daily Voice will be covering the proceeding.

Although an unattributed source has claimed that Springsteen blew a .02 on a breath test, the ranger said the rocker refused to take one – but didn’t say whether that was at the scene or back at the police station.

The results of a breath or blood test alone don't always determine the outcome of such cases. A person can be convicted of misdemeanor DWI in a national park if the magistrate believes what the officer said he or she saw and smelled during a field sobriety test.

A magistrate could find that the defendant was “operating or in physical control” of a motor vehicle “to a degree that renders them incapable of safe operation.”

The judge could impose a jail term of up to six months, a fine of up to $5,000 and probation for up to five years. More often than not, however, judges require alcohol evaluation and treatment and may even order community service or the use of an ignition lock.

A DWI can also be pleaded down to a lesser traffic offense, such as careless driving, which usually involves unknowingly committing a violation (a distracted lane change, for instance).

Reckless driving, on the other hand, means you should have reasonably known that your behavior could endanger the safety of others, or even yourself.

Reckless driving could, in the most extreme instances, bring imprisonment for up to 60 days and a license suspension. Or it could be pleaded down to careless driving.

Refusing to take a breath test brings its own set of penalties, including possible jail time, a license suspension and an ignition interlock requirement. Judges are less lenient with that charge.

Convictions for federal crimes remain on a person's record. The only way they can be expunged is through a pardon by the President of the United States.

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