Reese Witherspoon’s Arrest

Nobody can avoid the effect of drinking too much, nor escape the consequences thereof. Even if you’re famous. Even if you’re Reese Witherspoon.

According to CNN, the Legally Blonde actress was in Atlanta for the filming of a new movie when she was charged with interfering with the arrest of her husband, Hollywood agent James Toth, on a drunken driving charge–and even telling the officer that this was “going to be on national news”.

Well, she was right. The arrest itself may not have attracted much attention had it not been for the colorful performance of an obviously drunk Oscar-winning actress.

During the confrontation, Witherspoon denied the validity of the police officer, disobeyed the officer’s direct order to “sit on her butt and be quiet”, all the while declaring her right “to stand on American ground,” and topped it off by informing him that he was “about to find out who [she is]” and telling him that he was going to be on national news.

The officer, trooper that he is, reportedly replied that it was fine with him.

But it certainly wasn’t “fine” with the embarrassed couple. One day after the arrest became public, Witherspoon apologized profusely for the incident. As covered by CNN, the actress said

I clearly had one drink too many and I am deeply embarrassed about the things I said. . . I have nothing but respect for the police and I’m very sorry for my behavior.”

The consequences of irresponsible drinking inevitably leads down the path of destruction, humiliation, and regret. Toth, who was weaving in between lanes with a BAC of 0.138, may have easily caused a traffic accident, hurting others as well as himself and Witherspoon. (How much alcohol is in a standard drink?) Although nothing serious occurred and although Witherspoon is not the first to experience public humiliation from the effects of alcohol, the public may not forget this occurrence too soon.

Incidents like these happen every day, but it gets lost in the shadow of the overwhelming statistics about drunk driving and lost lives. It takes a publicized mishap to unveil the magnitude of the insidious effects of alcohol—embarrassment, a tainted record, guilt, hurt, loss of respect, wasted time. These things may not extinguish an individual’s life like a car crash, yet these effects impede the quality of life.

Irresponsible drinking, no matter who else it affects, will always affect you. We often tell our teens about the terrible consequences of too much alcohol, citing impressive statistics about car crashes, STDs, and even addiction. While these are nothing to scoff at, it is often the little things that can change and shape lives.

Will we eventually forget this “memorable” incident (despite the fact that it is added onto Witherspoon’s Wikipedia page)? Of course.

But will Witherspoon?