Months before he appeared in his first Super Bowl commercial, driving a white Jeep in an ad that urged a divided country to find middle ground, Bruce Springsteen was charged with drunken driving in New Jersey.
A rock legend and favorite son of the state, Mr. Springsteen was arrested on Nov. 14 in Gateway National Recreation Area, a sprawling, 27,000-acre park that includes beaches, hiking trails and an abandoned military fort, according to a spokeswoman for the National Park Service.
Mr. Springsteen, 71, was charged with driving while intoxicated, reckless driving and consuming alcohol in a closed area, the spokeswoman, Daphne Yun, said in an emailed statement.
“Springsteen was cooperative throughout the process,” she said.
Because the arrest occurred in a national park, federal prosecutors are handling the case. Mr. Springsteen’s first court appearance will be done by videoconference, likely toward the end of February, according to Matthew Reilly, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney in New Jersey.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Springsteen could not be reached for comment.
News of the arrest was first reported on Wednesday by TMZ.
On Sunday, Mr. Springsteen appeared in his first commercial ever, a two-minute call for national unity. In it, Mr. Springsteen is shown driving a Jeep, a newspaper flapping in the passenger seat and a notebook propped against the steering wheel.
“It’s no secret that the middle has been a hard place to get to lately, between red and blue, between servant and citizen, between our freedom and our fear,” he says in the commercial.
“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.”
The commercial was the result of a decade-long lobbying effort by Jeep. Mr. Springsteen’s longtime manager, Jon Landau, has said that Mr. Springsteen — known worldwide as the Boss and as Bruce to adoring fans — created the Jeep ad with his own creative team.
“Bruce made the film exactly as he wanted to, with no interference at all from Jeep,” Mr. Landau said in a New York Times article about the commercial.
On Wednesday afternoon, Jeep announced that it would “pause” the commercial, hours after video of the ad was removed from the company’s YouTube and Twitter accounts.
In a statement, a spokeswoman also suggested that Jeep had been unaware of the arrest before the much-heralded ad during the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.
“It would be inappropriate for us to comment on the details of a matter we have only read about and we cannot substantiate,” the spokeswoman, Diane Morgan, said.
“But it’s also right that we pause our Big Game commercial until the actual facts can be established,” she said. “Its message of community and unity is as relevant as ever. As is the message that drinking and driving can never be condoned.”
A spokeswoman for the Park Service had no comment about why it took nearly three months for the arrest to be disclosed publicly.
On Jan. 20, Mr. Springsteen was the first performer to play during a televised concert celebrating President Biden’s inauguration, singing “Land of Hope and Dreams” from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, which is also operated by the National Park Service.
Mr. Springsteen, who is known for his rock anthems that celebrate the common man — warts and all — lives with his family on a horse farm in Colts Neck, N.J., about 18 miles from Gateway, a popular national park along the northernmost swath of the Jersey Shore. It is commonly known as Sandy Hook and is closed from November through March, according to the Park Service website.
He grew up in Freehold, which is about 30 miles away from Sandy Hook, where he filmed a music video and parts of his 2014 short film “Hunter of Invisible Game.” The photographer Annie Leibovitz also shot the cover of his album “Tunnel of Love” on Sandy Hook.
Mr. Springsteen and Patti Scialfa, his wife and bandmate, have three adult children. Their youngest son, Sam, became a firefighter in Jersey City, N.J., just over a year ago.
In recent months, Mr. Springsteen has helped raise money for the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund and has promoted mask-wearing on highway billboards that urge people to “Wear a friggin’ mask!”
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