Justin Timberlake DWI Charges Explained by Celebrity Lawyer

[Source: CBS News]

Celebrity lawyer Christopher C. Melcher, who is ranked as a best family law attorney in CA, explains Justin Timberlake‘s DWI Charges on CBS News.


Anne-Marie: We’re continuing to follow breaking news out of New York, where Justin Timberlake is expected to be arraigned today. He was arrested earlier this morning in Sag Harbor. Now, police say that the pop star is accused of driving while intoxicated. The circumstances surrounding the arrest were not immediately released, and there has been no comment from his representatives.

I want to bring in top family law attorney Christopher C. Melcher. He is a celebrity divorce lawyer who represented Kanye West with his split with Kim Kardashian, but you’ve also done some other work outside of divorce work with celebrities.

Chris, so we’re still waiting to learn some details surrounding Justin Timberlake’s DWI arrest, but how serious could these potential charges be? I was kind of quickly looking at the rules of the laws in New York, and it looks like there’s a range of possibility of losing his license, maybe certainly fines, but jail time is on the table too.

Justin Timberlake’s Blood Alcohol Content


Chris Melcher: Well, I’m very sure this is a very serious offense, obviously, if he committed it, because he’s putting himself and everyone else in danger if he was driving while he was impaired. Now, under New York, they have a lower limit for blood alcohol content. A lot of states, it’s 0.08, which may be two three drinks, but in New York, you could be charged for as low as 0.05. Utah has a similar very low limit, so we don’t have the toxicological reports back yet to see if it was drugs and alcohol or combination of those, what the limit was. But it could be on the very lower end. Maybe it was two drinks that he had. We’re just not sure yet.

Vlad: So keeping in mind that we don’t know the circumstances of this particular case, what kind of additional factors would be considered in the sentencing phase of a DWI case that would be the difference between, for example, probational counseling versus something worse?

Jail Time for DUI


Chris Melcher: Well, Vlad, a lot of times in a first-time DUI, there’s not going to be any additional jail time. And why I say additional is that these folks are always taken into custody to be booked, and processed, and tested, and that counts as a day or two in jail. So he’s already in effect, served some time because of his custodial arrest.

Now, if it’s a first time for him and we have no indication that he’s ever had any similar problems like this, then it would probably just be probation, a suspension of his license, maybe some drug and alcohol counseling, and some fines.

Now, we also heard from the reporting that he had run a stop sign during the incident, but we didn’t hear anything about any accidents or any other aggravating circumstances. So most likely, if he did commit this offense and if he was convicted, it would be a lesson hard learned, but I don’t anticipate that he would go into custody again on it.

Anne-Marie:  We keep saying DWI, which is what the charge is, but I know in some areas it’s DUI, some areas have both. Can you just kind of give us what’s the difference between a DUI and a DWI?

Difference Between DUI and DWI


Chris Melcher:  We’re talking about this different terminology here. So we’re looking at levels of impairment, and each state has a different test, whether it’s drugs or alcohol. And sometimes that’s toxicological reports where they’re actually drawing blood and testing it or doing a breath test, and they’re saying, “Hey, if your blood alcohol content has a certain amount, a level, then you are guilty.” So they may have gone under that.

Other states can look at these field sobriety tests and from an officer examining somebody’s level of impairment based on whether they can do these roadside agility tests. So most of the prosecutions though, are done based on scientific results, rather than attempting for an officer to say the impairment based on somebody’s ability to stand on the side of a roadway.

Vlad:  And we know part of the arraignment process will include him entering a plea. If you were advising Timberlake as a client, would you advise any public statements at this stage of the investigation?

Advice for Justin Timberlake


Chris Melcher:  Well, if I was advising him, I would suggest that he get ahead of this very quickly. This is obviously a serious offense. We all know people who have lost their lives to DUI-related accidents. So with a non-celeb, we might say, “Hey, go, get the police report, see if we could fight this.” With a celeb, really, he’s got to get ahead of it. So my advice would be to take responsibility if he did it. Don’t fight it, and learn from it, and try to turn this into a message so people can see. It only takes a couple drinks to be impaired.

Anne-Marie:  We keep asking each other, why is Justin Timberlake driving? I always think if I had all that money, I would not. That’s one of the perks is that you don’t have to drive unless you want to, I suppose. I don’t know. Just take an Uber.

Chris Melcher:  Well, Anne-Marie, that’s a great question. It’s confounding. And really, what happens is if truly he was impaired, then his judgment was wrong. It was off that day or night. So this is what fools’ people is because they’re under the influence or impaired, and they just don’t think straight. They obviously could have got a ride-share, could have got a friend or security, somebody to pick them up, but this is what fools’ people into getting behind the wheel.

Vlad: All right, Chris Melcher, celebrity legal analyst and high-net-worth divorce lawyer, thank you so much for your legal analysis. 

©2024 CBS News. No claims made to copyrighted material. Aired 6/18/24.

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