Will Justin Timberlake’s DWI Charge Be His Downfall?

Justin Timberlake’s arrest for drink driving is just the latest in a long list of controversies surrounding the star

Justin Timberlake Controversies

by Daisy Hall |
Updated on

It appears that What Goes Around… Comes Around because Justin Timberlake – who has been blighted by multiple controversies over the years – has been arrested.

Charged with driving whilst intoxicated, according to reports Justin pulled over in Sag Harbor, New York and was taken into custody, where he was cited for running a stop sign and failure to keep in his lane. The following day, he appeared in court and was released without bail.

Page Six have stated that Justin reportedly told the police that he had only had ‘one martini’ and refused their request to take a breathalyser test, however sources said the musician appeared glassy-eyed and smelled of alcohol.

Justin Timberlake Mug Shot
Justin Timberlake Mug Shot ©Getty

Rather iconically it was also noted that the arresting officer failed to recognise the Selfish singer (yes, that is the name of his single, we’re not just calling him out…) – who has been on his Forget Tomorrow World Tour since April – because he was ‘so young’.

Justin has a plethora of seemingly problematic behaviour to his name, but has always managed to escape accusations with his career and reputation still relatively intact. But could his DVI charge become the final straw?

Social media certainly seems to hope so…

After a series of controversies - including the accusations in Britney Spears' memoir and his refusal to apologies to Janet Jackson for 'Nipplegate,' his alleged behaviour feels out of step with an entertainment industry working hard to clean up its act. He was the Pop Prince in the early 00s, but does the music industry, which is now blessed with woke but still ridiculously sexy male artists like Harry Styles and Stormzy, really need someone who refuses to properly take accountability for their behaviour?

Sadly, what’s far more likely is that Justin will issue yet another half-arsed apology message to Instagram before going on to do something similar in the future.

Lest we forget his recent announcement on tour in which he quipped, ‘I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to absolutely f**king nobody’ before singing Cry Me a River which is reportedly about his breakup from Britney Spears. You can’t get much more pointed than that…

So, since social media seems to think that Justin Timberlake’s arrest is finally the beginning of the end for the singer, here are all the controversies surrounding Justin Timberlake…

Britney Spear’s The Woman in Me accusations

They were the ‘it couple’ of the early 00s, but it turns out that Justin Timberlake and Britney Spear’s relationship wasn’t as smooth sailing as it seemed, at least according to the Toxic hitmaker’s bombshell memoir The Woman in Me.

Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears
Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears ©Getty

Released in 2023, Britney accused Justin of being unfaithful during their relationship, cheating with ‘another celebrity’ who she declined to name. She also claimed that she had had an abortion after falling pregnant with Justin’s child because Justin was reportedly not ready to become a father. Then, after everything he’d seemingly put her through he supposedly dumped her with a two word text saying, ‘It’s over.’

She wrote, ‘I loved Justin so much. I always expected us to have a family together one day. This would just be much earlier than I’d anticipated. But Justin definitely wasn’t happy about the pregnancy. He said we weren’t ready to have a baby in our lives, that we were way too young.’

It’s worth noting that Britney eventually went on to apologise to Justin, taking to Instagram to share a pic of the singer on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon writing, ‘I wanna apologize for some of the things I wrote about in my book. If I offended any of the people I genuinely care about I am deeply sorry.’ This is before his claim on stage that he apologises to ‘f**king nobody’ by the way…

Splitting up *NYSYNC

In 2002 Justin Timberlake broke hearts everywhere when he announced that he was leaving *NYSYNC in order to pursue a solo career.

*NYSYNC in 2023 ©Getty

And whilst his solo career was a huge success and he was seemingly able to remain friends with his fellow boyband members Lance Bass, Joey Fatone, Chris Kirkpatrick and JC Chasez, fans will likely never forgive him for breaking up the band.


Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake’s 2004 Super Bowl performance went viral after Justin grabbed Janet’s leather top and accidentally exposed her breast in front of the 140 million viewers.

Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake
Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake ©Getty

Both stars issued apologies at the time. Janet’s read, ‘The decision to have a costume reveal at the end of my halftime show performance was made after final rehearsals. MTV was completely unaware of it. It was not my intention that it go as far as it did. I apologize to anyone offended — including the audience, MTV, CBS and the NFL.’

For his part, Justin said, ‘I am sorry if anyone was offended by the wardrobe malfunction during the halftime performance at the Super Bowl. It was not intentional and is regrettable’ but fans were quick to note that all the heat came down on Janet, whilst Justin was left relatively unscathed.

Justin eventually apologised for his role in Nipplegate in 2021 writing on Instagram, ‘I’ve seen the messages, tags, comments, and concerns and I want to respond. I am deeply sorry for the times in my life where my actions contributed to the problem, where I spoke out of turn, or did not speak up for what was right. I understand that I fell short in these moments and in many others and benefited from a system that condones misogyny and racism.’

Despite Justin’s apology and acknowledgement of his privilege in the situation, reporters were quick to point out that just a few years earlier Justin had refused to apologise to Janet. When journalist Ernest Owens took to Twitter and accused Justin of appropriating black culture and asked him to ‘apologise to Janet too’ the Sexy Back singer replied, ‘Oh, you sweet soul. The more you realize that we are the same, the more we can have a conversation. Bye.’

Eventually Justin apologised for that response too and deleted the tweet, but wouldn’t it just be easier if he didn’t act like an arsehole in the first place?

Appropriating black culture

Ernest Owens tweet embodied an attitude towards Justin Timberlake that he was profiting from black culture without acknowledging it.

It’s an accusation that has been levelled at Justin throughout his career, from his cornrows to his later tracks including Drink You Away which had influences of gospel and black American music at its heart.

It’s a controversy that’s hard to prove however and Justin has never properly spoken about the accusations.

Accusations of infidelity

In October 2010, it was reported that Justin had cheated on his then-girlfriend Jessica Biel with actress Olivia Munn after meeting at a MySpace event.

Timberlake’s rep denied the allegations at the time. Munn’s rep never commented on the claims.

In 2019, photos emerged of Justin looking cosy with his Palmer co-star Alisha Wainwright whilst the pair were in New Orleans.

Sources claimed that Timberlake was not wearing his wedding ring – despite having been married to Jessica Biel for seven years at this point - and ‘appeared to have been drinking heavily and was unsteady on his feet.’

Justin later apologised for his behaviour saying on Instagram, ‘A few weeks ago, I displayed a strong lapse of judgment — but let me be clear — nothing happened between me and my co-star. I drank way too much that night and I regret my behaviour. I should have known better. This is not the example I want to set for my son.

‘I apologize to my amazing wife and family for putting them through such an embarrassing situation, and I am focused on being the best husband and father I can be. This was not that.’

And now a DUI. What will be next?

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