Witherspoon Arrest Jolts Fans, Changes Image

Will the Reese Witherspoon disorderly conduct arrest change the Legally Blonde star’s sweetheart image? As all the world knows, the A-lister was arrested on Friday night after an Atlanta traffic stop that resulted in officers first arresting her husband Jim Toth for DUI.

Instead of sitting in silence, the actress — who has since confessed that she had “one drink too many” herself — tried to intervene, asking, “Do you know my name?”

Playing the DYKWIA (Do You Know Who I Am) card really doesn’t make you popular with anybody on planet earth, but a law enforcement officer can do something about it when you hurt his feelings by implying that you’re just a little more important than his petty concerns with doing his job.

The officers can, and in this case, did arrest the offending DYKWIAer on a nuisance disorderly conduct charge, which will be heard in an Atlanta court on May 22 unless it’s quietly dropped beforehand.

End result? An embarrassing arrest and a lot of questions about how Reese Witherspoon’s sugar-sweet image fits with the entitled attitude some people say she displayed that night.

Witherspoon later apologized, saying that she was frightened for her husband and that there was no excuse for being “disrespectful to the officer who was just doing his job. The words I used that night definitely do not reflect who I am.”

And, to a certain extent, if the officers didn’t know who she was, they might have been even more likely to arrest the apparently intoxicated Reese Witherspoon, instead of giving her three chances to sit down and shut up.

Although the media seems to downplay the consequences of being a passenger in a car with a drunk driver — perhaps because it would discourage people from having a designated driver — I think we’ve all heard rumors of passengers being arrested for disorderly conduct just for being in the car.

According to online legal website The Law Dictionary, passengers often find themselves in a catch-22 situation. If they aren’t drunk, they may face legal charges of reckless endangerment for allowing the impaired driver to take the wheel.

If they are themselves intoxicated, they’re frequently arrested and booked into jail for disorderly conduct if they’re unable to find another ride home.

I certainly don’t condone the DYKWIA attitude, but a frightened woman — especially an impaired one — can make bad decisions when she doesn’t know what to do. That may well be the case for Reese Witherspoon.

Chelsea Handler, Witherspoon’s friend and staunch defender, told Entertainment Tonight: “She’s just trying to protect her husband, so …I mean, everybody makes mistakes so it’s not a big deal.”

But not everyone will agree.

Paul Dergarabedian, a box office analyst, said that the words Witherspoon used will be devastating to her appeal: “Her fans…don’t look to Reese to act in this way. Just that line ‘Do you know who I am?’ It has such a negative connotation that she thought she was above the law.”

Robert Jonathan previously reported on the Reese Witherspoon arrest — including the now-notorious booking video.

And there’s more video coverage here:

Reese Witherspoon Arrested For Disorderly Conduct After Husband Gets DUI

And here:

What do you think? I think the arrest does real harm to Reese Witherspoon’s image.

[Jim Toth, Reese Witherspoon, and family photo by Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com]

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