NINE DAYS AFTER POLICE INVESTIGATE EGG-GATE, JUSTIN BIEBER IS ARRESTED IN MIAMI FOR DUI. NEXT STOP: A BEACH GETAWAY TO PANAMA. INSIDE HIS WILD BEHAVIOR – AND HOW A FRESH-FACED TALENT BECAME AN UNAPOLOGETIC BAD BOY
THURSDAY, JAN. 23
Charged with DUI, driving without a license and resisting arrest without violence, Bieber was taken in handcuffs to Miami’s Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center.
THURSDAY JAN. 23, 2 P.M.
The singer waved to fans after leaving the correction center on $2,500 bail. He later compared the image to a similar one of Michael Jackson.
SUNDAY, JAN. 26
Hitting the beach in Panama, Bieber was mobbed by fans. “YOU ARE ALL WORTHY NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE SAYS,” he tweeted Jan. 24. “BE STRONG.”
He had been sobbing in a Miami jail cell just two days earlier, but when Justin Bieber surfaced at the Nitro City hotel in Panama on Jan. 25, he appeared to have regained much of his signature swag. Skateboarding, strolling the beach and taking pictures with fans, he looked relaxed as he hung out with a group that included his longtime mentor Usher, manager Scooter Braun and model Chantel Jeffries. “Panama is beautiful,” Jeffries, 21, tells PEOPLE. “It’s a good place to get away from all the stress.”
Given the legal fallout from Bieber’s out-of-control behavior in recent weeks, “stress” doesn’t seem to cover it. Already the subject of an L.A. police investigation following a Jan. 9 incident in which Bieber allegedly threw eggs at a neighbor’s home, the 19-year-old pop star got into more trouble on Jan. 23, when he was charged with DUI after drag racing in a residential area in a loaned Lamborghini. Admitting to using marijuana, alcohol and prescription drugs earlier in the evening, Bieber took a sobriety test that put his blood alcohol level at .014, less than Florida’s legal limit of .02 for drivers under age 21. (Drug-test results are pending.) After posting the $2,500 bail, he flew to Panama for a previously scheduled trip. “It isn’t an intervention,” says a pal. “They’re not confronting him but giving him advice.”
Still, several people close to the situation say they hope the singer’s arrest will serve as a wake-up call. “Everybody around him has been telling him he can do what he wants and he has no limitations,” says an industry insider who has heard producers defend Bieber’s past partying with claims that he needs a “release” from the pressures of his turbo-charged fame. “I hope this would be a chance for him to learn some accountability and humility.”
His Jan. 24 Instagram post comparing himself to Michael Jackson suggests he has learned neither. Even before his arrest, the singer had been defiant about accusations of entitlement and bad-boy behavior (see box). As he told The Hollywood Reporter in November, “I don’t give a f– what they say. I know who I am and what I’m doing in my life and what I’ve accomplished and continue to accomplish … I’m happy with the man I’m becoming.”
But the singer’s partying has raised questions about more serious issues. A source who attended a bash at Bieber’s L.A. estate several weeks ago says there were drugs readily available, including marijuana and pharmacy-sized bottles of prescription-strength codeine syrup. (The source did not see Bieber using drugs.) And a source at Miami Beach’s Mansion nightclub on Jan. 20 says the singer “was out of it and slurred his words.” At SET nightclub on Jan. 22 – just before his arrest – he ordered only water and Red Bull for the table, but police later said he looked to be in a “stupor.”
A source close to Bieber says the destructive behavior partly stems from his on-again, off-again relationship with Selena Gomez, 21: “She was the last girl he was able to develop a relationship with organically. He’s had a hard time letting go of her. He uses partying to cope with the loneliness.”
While one insider says Bieber’s inner circle hasn’t done enough to help him, another says he has rebuffed their attempts. “The people close to him try, but he’s a mess,” says an industry source. “He acts as though he’s never heard the word ‘no’ and he thinks he’s God.” Bieber’s mother, Pattie Mallette, 37, who famously raised him as a single mom in Stratford, Ont., has acknowledged having less influence over her only son these days. “It is hard to not be able to control everything that your adult child does,” she told People last August. “It is a difficult transition.” In fact, Bieber did have parental supervision when he was in Miami: His dad, Jeremy, 38, was also on the trip with him. “Worry about the log in your eye before judging the spec[k] in mine!” Jeremy tweeted two days later, referencing scripture.
With Bieber’s own judgment day still to come in the DUI and no charges filed in the egg-throwing case, he is planning his next moves. His army of Beliebers – who showed their support on social media – certainly remains intact. “Honestly, nothing will slow down for him,” says a source who works with him. And that, says fellow pop star Victoria Justice, 20, is what’s hard about being young and in the spotlight. “It’s so fast-paced,” says the actress. “I hope he learns from his mistakes.”