Bruce Springsteen DUI Charge Dropped

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The Jeep® brand and Bruce Springsteen collaborated to launch “The Middle” Super Bowl campaign. (Photo: Rob DeMartin; used with permission)

Charges of Driving Under the Influence and Reckless Driving stemming from an arrest last November have been dropped against Bruce Springsteen. The musician has pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of consuming alcohol in “a closed area” and has paid a fine of $540.

News of Springsteen’s arrest arose on Feb. 10, three days after a controversial Jeep TV ad featuring the star ran during Super Bowl LV.

Today (Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021), Mitchell Ansell, an attorney for Springsteen issued a brief statement:

“Mr. Springsteen is pleased with the outcome of today’s court appearance. The prosecutor was unable to provide the necessary evidence and facts as it related to the charge of Driving under the Influence (DUI) and Reckless Driving and therefore, dismissed both of those charges. Mr. Springsteen, who has no previous criminal record of any kind, voluntarily plead guilty to a violation of consuming an alcoholic beverage in a closed area, agreeing to a fine of $500. We want to thank the Court and will have no further comment at this time.”

Sometime in the days following its airing during Super Bowl LV on February 7, 2021, Jeep scrubbed its ad with Bruce Springsteen from its social media platforms. The two-minute ad, titled “The Middle,” was no longer on the auto brand’s YouTube channel. The company didn’t even mention it on their Facebook page. In its place was an ad called “The Road Ahead.”

That changed on Feb. 24, following Springsteen’s court decision.

Companies spend significant resources when they purchase time on the Super Bowl. The Springsteen ad was far longer than either a 30-second or one-minute spot. Ad experts note that it cost $5.6 million to purchase an ad during the CBS broadcast. (It’s not known whether Jeep paid 4x that amount, which would be $22.4 million. That number, of course, doesn’t include the considerable expense to create and produce the commercial on-location.)

Watch the replacement ad, “The Road Ahead”

It was announced that the Springsteen ad would make a one-time television appearance during the Super Bowl. And it’s not unprecedented for brands to remove their ads once they’ve played on such a grand stage.

The star narrates the spot, which was filmed just weeks earlier.

The clip begins with a shot of an open road in America’s heartland. “There’s a chapel in Kansas,” says Springsteen, “Standing on the exact center of the lower forty-eight. It never closes. All are more than welcome. To come meet here, in the middle.

Lebanon, Kansas, as seen in “The Middle”

“The middle has been a hard place to get to lately,” he says. “Between red and blue. Between servant and citizen. Between our freedom and our fear. Now, fear has never been the best of who we are. And as for freedom, it’s not the property of just the fortunate few; it belongs to us all.”

But the brand and Springsteen both received significant blowback for the spot, from both the right and the left for “The Middle.” As of Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 10, the spot was still available on Springsteen’s Twitter page, where the thousands of comments were leaning more towards criticism than praise.

For every “That was beautiful and comforting,” there was “This commercial is tone deaf on so many levels.” One commenter wrote, “I liked the ad. You were good in it. Then I read a few other ideas about it that really struck a cord (sic). I saw my white privilege.”

“Those that are full of anger and rage cannot yet see the true message,” wrote another. “Respect, forgiveness and kindness has to start somewhere and I thank you for stepping forward.”

On Jeep’s Facebook page, the company received critical comments on their post for the replacement ad, “The Road Ahead.” “Superbowl (sic) commercial made me nauseous and angry,” wrote one commenter. “I had considered upgrading my Jeep. No longer. Stay in your lane.”

The campaign debuted 10 years to the day from the launch of the “Imported from Detroit” campaign, on Feb. 7, 2011.

On Feb. 10, reports began to appear that Springsteen had been arrested last November and charged with driving while intoxicated in New Jersey. “Glory Daze” blared the headline in the New York Post. The musician was charged with DWI and reckless driving at Gateway National Recreation Area in Sandy Hook. It’s considered a federal offense because the park is on federal property.

Jeep issued a statement: “It would be inappropriate for us to comment on the details of a matter we have only read about and we cannot substantiate. But it’s also right that we pause our Big Game commercial until the actual facts can be established. Its message of community and unity is as relevant as ever. As is the message that drinking and driving can never be condoned.”

It’s since been reported that Springsteen had posed for a photo with fans in the area’s parking lot. He was apparently busted after drinking a shot of tequila that he was offered, in full view of police, before hopping back on his motorcycle. The Asbury Park Press reports that his alcohol blood level was just one-fourth of the state’s legal limit of 0.08.

Springsteen was intimately involved in creating “The Middle” and worked closely with longtime director Thom Zimny. He wrote and produced the original score with frequent collaborator Ron Aniello.

The film was shot over five days in January 2021 in Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska.

“From ‘Imported from Detroit’ and ‘Halftime in America’ to ‘Farmer,’ and most recently ‘Groundhog Day,’ we have looked at making meaningful and emotional connections with millions of viewers, with cultural relevancy at the core of our communication,” said Olivier Francois, the global marketing exec for Stellantis. “‘The Middle’ is a celebration of the Jeep brand’s 80-year anniversary and, more timely, it is a call to all Americans to come together and seek common ground as we look collectively to the road ahead.”

Springsteen’s manager Jon Landau said: “Our goal was to do something surprising, relevant, immediate and artful.”

“Our light has always found its way through the darkness,” narrates Springsteen, as the spot ends. “And there’s hope on the road … up ahead.”

Here’s what you’ll see if you try to view Jeep’s original upload of “The Video”

Lo and behold, the automaker returned the clip to its social media platforms on Feb. 24, following Springsteen’s court appearance.

The ad is believed to be Springsteen’s first commercial appearance. He and the E Street Band were the halftime performers for Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa, Fla., in 2009.

While “Imported from Detroit” spoke to the grit, ingenuity and determination of Detroit auto workers in 2011, the following year “Halftime in America” sought to galvanize Americans going through challenging times, with Clint Eastwood stating, “This country can’t be knocked out in one punch. We get back up again.” Then, in 2013, the Ram brand launched “Farmer,” acknowledging and honoring American farmers through the iconic words of legendary radio personality Paul Harvey.

Watch Eastwood’s “Halftime in America” spot

Related: Watch Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day spot for Jeep which aired during Super Bowl LIV in 2020

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12 Comments so far

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  1. Kelz
    #1 Kelz 11 February, 2021, 00:24

    So it was scrubbed – related to feedback about the commercial or the DWI charge? Is this what people mean by ‘cancel culture’?

    Reply this comment
  2. LORD WHEAT
    #2 LORD WHEAT 11 February, 2021, 00:36

    Well, THAT sure blew up quickly, didn’t it?!?
    Bruce goes from (depending on your view) all-American/nice guy to drunken-driver/hypocrite in a matter of days…
    What is shocking to me is that he let this commercial air and didn’t tell Jeep™ about the incident. Where was his ‘team’ on this?!? Did he actually think this would not make news?!? DWI’s are public record.
    PS– I actually had a summer home in Highlands, NJ, which is the town right next to the park (Sandy Hook) where this occurred. Part of the federal park is an area that, during the Cold War, it housed Nike missiles. They were nuclear warheads intended to protect New York from a Soviet bomber attack.
    That area of the park strewn with old bunkers and military-related equipment.
    During the winter, that area is pretty deserted. So, if he was in THAT area, I can understand that he felt “safe” and maybe a
    little too safe. This is the area in which he lives.
    Good luck, “Boss”, on getting your keister out of this mess.

    Reply this comment
    • Stan
      Stan 12 February, 2021, 08:11

      What’s getting missed in all this commotion is the initial absurdity of a DUI charge after blowing a .02. You blow a .02 after one drink. On any given night in the US pretty much EVERYONE who went to dinner with friends, stopped at the bar on the way home, is legally a felon. What utter bullshit.

      Reply this comment
  3. muddywatersmann
    #3 muddywatersmann 11 February, 2021, 01:18

    Seems to me that scrubbing the ad due to his DWI months ago is a bit excessive. Clearly no one, including Jeep and myself condones drinking and driving, and I imagine Bruce is both embarrassed and apologetic…good ad, bad decision, imo!

    Reply this comment
    • melf
      melf 11 February, 2021, 23:19

      I agree that it was an unfortunate miscalculation on Bruce’s part.

      What’s most unfortunate and pathetic is the media’s response. The NYC papers call it ” Born to Rum” Nice and tactless, just what u would expect with media publications. No worries I’m sure Bruce will know how to get great legal counsel.
      He will rise above it and who knows maybe even pen a song from it!

      Reply this comment
  4. Timflyte
    #4 Timflyte 11 February, 2021, 02:07

    As a victim of being hit head on by a drunk driver, while on my way home from working a extra day to buy school clothes for my children, and now being only able to walk with considerable pain and unable to stand for very long , I am glad the commercial was pulled. Its odd that the DUI was last November but only now is making the news ( I don’t recall reading anything here about it ) ? That’s what happens when you’re rich I guess. We shouldn’t honor drunk drivers by putting them in automobile commercials, but give voice to their many victims. Now that would make an interesting car commercial. As far as the content of the video , companies should get out of politics and just make & sell products. They could’ve took the money they paid for that commercial and lowered the price on their products.

    Reply this comment
  5. Ltning7
    #5 Ltning7 11 February, 2021, 05:05

    Someone please explain to me what was even the least bit “offensive” about Bruce Springsteen’s ad for Jeep which aired during the Super Bowl. As Jeep owners, we all liked the ad—didn’t totally understand it, maybe. But liked it, and certainly were NOT offended in any way. I don’t get it.

    Reply this comment
  6. Watcher of the Skies
    #6 Watcher of the Skies 11 February, 2021, 05:30

    So… it never even existed. Welcome to the future–now.

    Reply this comment
  7. Onteo
    #7 Onteo 11 February, 2021, 06:18

    Cancelled as it should be. His 4 years of anti Trump rhetoric offended most of his fan base. Being a drunk on the highway makes this ad and its cancellation so much Sweeter. I’m sure a lame song is sure to follow.

    Reply this comment
    • bsdxlr8r
      bsdxlr8r 22 February, 2021, 19:02

      As with all “news” “stories” – I wait until ALL has been heard that is to be heard on a topic, prior to my comment on it. I agree with your appreciation of the irony in cancel-culture striking it’s own. BUT: as the right – we hold ourselves to a higher level than those children on the left. (They call it the right for a reason). We must insist on honesty. Is blowing a .02 in a state with legal limit set at .08% to be considered Driving While Intoxicated? – Or even “Driving While under the Influence”? NO. I say unfair. Unreasonable. I do not care for the man at all. I do not like him. I stand by and defend him just as I do common sense. Our righteous indignation is reserved for when we EARN it. I am offended by the red star they put in there. I am puzzled by how their politics is a Jeep Super Bowl ad. It just said “Do not buy our product. We are an enemy of the State!” to half the Nation.

      Reply this comment
  8. Da Mick
    #8 Da Mick 26 February, 2021, 07:30

    The fine is BS. And what about the fate of the officers who falsely charged him? That was obviously a personally vindictive charge by some cops who obviously feel about Springsteen the way some on this comment section do. Even dropped charges of this nature carry long lasting penalties, and do harm that won’t be undone for a long time. Officers who misuse their power in such obvious unsanctioned ways should be severely punished, or better yet fired.

    Reply this comment

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