Justin Timberlake leaves his arraignment in Sag Harbor Tuesday morning,...

Justin Timberlake leaves his arraignment in Sag Harbor Tuesday morning, with his attorney Edward Burke Jr.  Credit: Doug Kuntz

Pop star Justin Timberlake is a good candidate to negotiate a deal with prosecutors allowing him to plead guilty to a reduced charge and avoid jail time following his drunken driving arrest in Sag Harbor early Tuesday, according to Suffolk County defense attorneys not involved in the case.

Timberlake, 43, of Franklin, Tennessee, was pulled over after he ran a stop sign after midnight Tuesday, according to Sag Harbor Village police. Police said his eyes were glassy, his speech was slurred and he admitted drinking a martini beforehand. He has pleaded not guilty and is due back in court July 26.

No one was injured and prosecutors do not have results of a chemical test Timberlake refused to take — factors that could potentially lead to a favorable outcome for the entertainer, attorneys said.

“If he was cooperative and polite, the likelihood is that they would offer him maybe a period of community service for a driving while impaired [charge],” said John LoTurco, a former Suffolk major offense prosecutor and longtime criminal defense attorney from Huntington. “He's not going to get any special treatment because he's a celebrity, and he's not going to be treated more harshly because he's a celebrity.”

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Singer Justin Timberlake could potentially qualify for a plea deal to a reduced charge after his drunken driving arrest in Sag Harbor, lawyers not involved in the case said.
  • Timberlake was pulled over after he ran a stop sign after midnight Tuesday, according to Sag Harbor Village police.
  • Suffolk prosecutors, who would have to offer the plea deal, declined to comment.

LoTurco said Timberlake’s attorney, Edward Burke Jr., will likely prepare what is called a mitigation package, which could include letters endorsing Timberlake's character, in hopes of persuading prosecutors to offer a deal involving a plea to a reduced charge.

“He's a gentleman who is productive,” defense attorney Michael J. Brown, of Central Islip, also a former prosecutor, said of Timberlake. “He works. He's a father; he has children. He's definitely an excellent candidate to get a reduction.”

Timberlake is married to actress Jessica Biel and the couple have two children.

Burke has previously handled high-profile Hamptons cases, like that of former NBA star Jason Kidd, who was arrested on a DWI charge after he struck a telephone pole in Southampton in 2012, and Lizzie Grubman, the Manhattan public relations rep who backed her SUV into a crowd outside a Southampton nightclub in 2001.

Burke, a former Suffolk County prosecutor whose father, Edward Burke Sr., served as a Southampton Town Justice, released a statement Wednesday saying he looks “forward to vigorously defending Mr. Timberlake against these allegations.”

“He will have a lot to say at the appropriate time,” Burke said. “He is currently awaiting full discovery from the DA’s office.”

The case will likely take about six to nine months to adjudicate, attorneys said.

A spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Ray Tierney, whose office would have to offer the plea deal, declined to comment. 

Timberlake may not need to return to Sag Harbor for future appearances and could issue a potential guilty plea via an affidavit, if Sag Harbor Village Justice Carl Irace agrees to it, LoTurco said.

If convicted of DWI as a misdemeanor, a defendant faces up to a year in jail and a fine up to $1,000. But the penalties for the lesser charge of driving while impaired are up to 15 days in jail and up to a $500 fine. 

“There’s zero chance that anybody goes to jail on a … case like this,” said defense attorney Steven Politi of Central Islip. “This is so basic and so benign.”

Timberlake was offered a breath test three times and refused, saying, “No, I’m not doing a chemical test,” according to court papers.

Refusing a breath test automatically triggers a proceeding before the state Department of Motor Vehicles where, if the charge is upheld, Timberlake will lose his New York driving privileges for a year and pay a $500 penalty.

Not having a blood-alcohol reading means prosecutors will likely rely on police testimony and body camera and dashboard camera footage to prove their case, Brown said. Both were recorded at the scene, according to the court papers.

Police said Timberlake had trouble speaking while looking for his vehicle registration. He also struggled to complete a “walk and turn” test, turning the wrong way and missing steps, they said. 

“We can be brought, from a jury standpoint, right to the scene because we can look at how the defendant appeared physically and how he performed on field sobriety test,” Brown said of the video footage. “It's favorable to the defendant more times than not.”

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