What Reese Witherspoon’s Kids Can Learn From Her Arrest Apology

reese witherspoon mugshot

Actress humbly says she’s sorry for disorderly conduct against a police officer

Bizarre end to a bizarre week: On Friday, we learned that actress Reese Witherspoon had been arrested after her husband Jim Toth got pulled over for driving under the influence. Not a tabloid staple from whom we would expect this kind of behavior, but the sunny, smiling star of films like Legally Blonde! If anything, Reese has made strides to stay off the radar of sites like TMZ, but that was exactly who posted her mugshot–and the way she called out the cop arresting her.

According to TMZ’s sources, Jim was pretty clearly impaired, first weaving in and out of lanes and then, upon closer inspection, smelling strongly of alcohol. But the officer also claims that when he started questioning Jim, Reese started acting up. She allegedly demanded, “Do you my name?” When the officer replied that no, he didn’t–clearly he’d never seen Cruel Intentions–she said, “You’re about to find out who I am… You are going to be on national news.”

Reese was right about one thing: This did become a national news story. But she was the one who got the lion’s share of the derision, mostly on Twitter. It’s almost laughable that she resorted to the clichéd celebrity defense of “Don’t you know who I am?!”

With a few days to cool off, Reese has now issued this simple and humble apology:

“Out of respect for the ongoing legal situation, I cannot comment on everything that is being reported right now. But I do want to say, I clearly had one drink too many and I am deeply embarrassed about the things I said.

“It was definitely a scary situation and I was frightened for my husband, but that is no excuse. I was disrespectful to the officer who was just doing his job. The words I used that night definitely do not reflect who I am. I have nothing but respect for the police and I’m very sorry for my behavior.”

Bravo, Reese! Other celebrities would dig a deeper hole by becoming even more defensive and claiming that they had been misquoted. Sure, she had the knee-jerk reaction to think that she was above the law, but unlike other stars who would continue with that line of thinking, she knocked some self-awareness into herself and addressed the issue before anyone else could.

I sometimes worry about celebrity kids, who grow up in this permissive culture that reveres their parents, and by extension them. However, not only did Reese save face, but she also turned this into a key teaching situation for daughter Ava Philippe and newborn son Tennessee James Toth on taking responsibility.

Photo: City of Atlanta Department of Corrections