Monday, February 19, 2018
News Roundup

Justin Bieber arrested in Miami Beach on drag racing, DUI charges

MIAMI BEACH — Pop star Justin Bieber was arrested on charges of drag racing, DUI and resisting arrest Thursday after allegedly speeding down a residential Miami Beach street in a yellow Lamborghini on an expired license. He is being held at a Miami-Dade County jail pending an initial appearance expected later Thursday.

Authorities say Bieber was arrested after police saw him and R&B singer Khalil racing two luxury vehicles down the street at 4:09 a.m., with two other vehicles apparently being used to block off the area. Both Bieber and Khalil face charges of drag racing and driving under the influence.

Police Chief Ray Martinez told a news conference Thursday morning the singer was initially not cooperative when the officer pulled him over. Martinez said the singer also had an invalid Georgia driver's license and admitted to smoking marijuana, taking prescription medication and drinking.

Police said Bieber was driving a Lamborghini and Khalil was driving a Ferrari. Both cars were towed. Police say Bieber was clocked at 55 to 60 mph in a 30 mph zone.

According to the arrest report, Bieber "had slow deliberate movements" and a look of stupor on his face when the officer ordered him to exit his vehicle. The 19-year-old Bieber was placed under arrest after repeatedly refusing to put his hands on his vehicle so the officer could pat him down to look for weapons, the report said. It says he cursed several times at the officer and demanded to know why he was being arrested.

Bieber failed a field sobriety test and was taken to the Miami Beach police station for a Breathalyzer, police said. Results have not been released.

Television footage early Thursday showed a van thought to be carrying Bieber from a Miami Beach police station to a Miami-Dade County jail. The van, with blacked-out windows, was trailed by squad cars.

His publicist, Melissa Victor, did not offer an immediate comment.

The street where police say Bieber was racing in mid Miami Beach is a four-lane residential street divided by a grass median dotted with palm trees. Along one side of the street are small apartment buildings, and on the other side are a high school, a youth center, a golf course and a city firehouse.

Jose Torres, whose company is installing an alarm system at the youth center, said he's not surprised people would use the straightaway to drag race.

"This street is empty at night. There's nobody out here at night," Torres said.

It's a short drive from the area to trendy South Beach, where celebrities are known to let loose. George Avilas, who lives nearby said he didn't hear anything, but was not surprised to hear that people might be drag racing.

"There's so much partying in Miami Beach, it's been known to happen," he said. "It's 4 o'clock in the morning, everybody is just getting out of the bars."

Bieber's arrival in Florida earlier this week also is under investigation. Authorities in the suburban Miami city of Opa-locka are investigating whether the singer was given a police escort when he landed Monday at the Opa-locka Executive Airport.

"The escort was unauthorized by police administration," said Assistant City Manager David Chiverton.

At least two marked police cars provided Bieber with an escort from the airport, but it was not clear where they went, Chiverton said.

Police escorts from the airport are not uncommon, but they must follow procedure because they involve city vehicles, Chiverton said.

"We're still unsure of where it led to," Chiverton said. There's a procedure. These things must be approved, there's a process. They used city vehicles."

Under Florida law, people under the age of 21 are considered driving under the influence if they have a blood alcohol content of .02 percent or more — a level he could reach with one drink. For 21 and over, it is .08 percent.

For a first DUI offense, there is no minimum sentence and a maximum of six months, a fine of $250 to $500, and 50 hours of community service. For anyone under 21, there is an automatic six-month license suspension.

A first conviction for drag racing carries a sentence of up to six months, a fine of $500 to $1,000 and a one-year license suspension.

Earlier this month, officials said that detectives in California searched Bieber's home looking for surveillance footage that might serve as evidence the pop star was involved in an egg-tossing vandalism case that caused thousands of dollars in damage to a neighbor's home. Officials said Bieber was at the home and cooperated with authorities

In that case, authorities arrested one member of Bieber's entourage on suspicion of drug possession: Lil Za, a rapper whose real name is Xavier Smith.

After being taken to jail, Smith had felony vandalism added to his potential charges and was released on bail at about 8:15 p.m.

The singer lives in a gated community in Calabasas, a celebrity enclave about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

Previous investigations into Bieber's conduct by the sheriff's department have not resulted in charges.

In October, prosecutors declined to charge Bieber after a neighbor complained he drove recklessly through the area. Prosecutors in November 2012 also declined to charge the singer after a paparazzo accused him of punching and hitting him after leaving a Calabasas movie theater.

Justin Bieber was only 15 when his platinum-selling debut My World was released. The singer from Ontario had placed second in a local singing contest two years earlier and began posting performances on YouTube, according to his official website. The videos caught the attention of a talent agent who helped Bieber land an audition with R&B singer Usher. Usher, along with Island/Def Jam chairman L.A. Reid, signed him to a recording contract.

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