Miami (AFP) – Pop star Justin Bieber was charged with driving under the influence after police caught him drag racing in Miami Beach early Thursday — allegedly after drinking and smoking marijuana.
The arrest was the latest in a string of problems that have tarnished the image of the 19-year-old Canadian singer, from rows in Australia and Brazil over graffiti to the search of his California home last week.
Police said Bieber was racing a rented yellow Lamborghini on a residential street when he was arrested shortly after 4:00 am (0900 GMT).
Miami Beach Police Chief Raymond Martinez told reporters that Bieber was incoherent at the time of his arrest, and was unable to produce a valid driver’s license.
Wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, Bieber appeared in a Florida courtroom several hours later, where a judge ordered him held on $2,500 bond.
He left jail a short time later, waving to fans while sitting atop his sport utility vehicle (SUV).
Beyond the DUI charge, he also faces charges of resisting arrest and driving with an expired license.
Police released two mug shots of Bieber — smiling and slightly bleary-eyed in one, more serious in the other — as well as video footage of the arrest.
A police report revealed that the teenager failed a sobriety test. An “odor of alcohol” was detected on Bieber’s breath, he had “bloodshot eyes” and made “slow deliberate movements,” the report said.
Authorities said he also was uncooperative and verbally abusive during his arrest, hurling obscenities at police, and initially refusing to exit his vehicle.
News reports said Bieber admitted to police that he had consumed alcohol, taken prescription medications and smoked marijuana.
Bieber’s publicists told AFP they had no comment.
Miami Beach police said they also arrested Bieber’s friend, the rapper Khalil Amir Sharieff, and charged him with driving under the influence.
Sharieff reportedly had been driving a red Ferrari while racing against Bieber’s yellow Lamborghini.
“Miami nights ridin thru yo city in that hot wheel,” Sharieff wrote on his Instagram account Thursday under the handle Khalil, shortly before being taken into custody.
Miami Beach police spokeswoman Vivian Hernandez told AFP that at the time of his arrest, Bieber was with “a young lady” whose identity she declined to reveal.
Bieber over the last few days had kept a high profile while visiting South Florida.
News reports this week said he shelled out tens of thousands of dollars at the local King of Diamonds strip club on Monday night.
Police at first were hard-pressed to halt Bieber, given the speed at which he was traveling.
“When the cars are going that fast, it takes a while to catch up,” said Martinez.
The police report said that he was traveling close to 60 miles per hour, about twice the posted speed on the residential street.
The pop star’s crew reportedly blocked off the road with their SUVs to create an improvised drag strip.
The drag racing incident is just the latest in a series of recent negative headlines for Bieber, who has sold more than 12 million albums since emerging on the music scene in 2009 as a schoolboy sensation.
Just last week, police searched Bieber’s Los Angeles mansion over an egg-throwing attack, seized illegal drugs and arrested one of the singer’s associates.
The teen idol was accused of causing thousands of dollars in damage to a neighbor’s house after pelting it with eggs.
He also attracted criticism on a recent tour of Australia after allegedly spraying graffiti on a hotel wall.
A tour of South America last year also ran into turbulence, with allegations that he tagged the wall of a Rio de Janeiro hotel and failed to pay a bill in a Buenos Aires nightclub.
Bieber caused offense yet again by stepping on an Argentine flag thrown onto a stage during a concert. And he was evicted from a luxury hotel in Buenos Aires after a room was damaged.
Over the Christmas holidays, Bieber said on Twitter that he was “officially retiring.”
News of Bieber’s latest brush with notoriety was greeted with concern in Hollywood.
“It’s hard to hear all this news about @JustinBieber,” said talk show host Ellen DeGeneres tweeted.
“I hope he makes his way to adulthood without him or anyone else getting hurt.”
AFP Photo/Joe Raedle