Reese Witherspoon Arrested: Are Her "America's Sweetheart" Days Over?

The actress' squeaky-clean reputation has been tarnished -- but that might not be a bad thing

Bet the last thing you expected to see when you woke up this morning was a mug shot of Reese Witherspoon. The actress was arrested alongside her husband Jim Toth on Friday; he was charged with a DUI, and she was hit with a disorderly conduct charge. Though "disorderly" might be too polite a word for her behavior!

The arrests took place in Atlanta, Georgia, where Witherspoon is filming a movie. Per the police report, the couple was pulled over after an officer spotted Toth's car weaving in and out of his lane. A breathalyzer test soon determined that Toth's blood alcohol level was .139 (the legal limit for drivers being .08).There's no way he should have been driving in that condition. Nonetheless, Reese reportedly threw a fit.

"Mrs. Witherspoon began to hang out the window and say that she did not believe that I was a real police officer," arresting officer J. Pyland wrote in his report. "I told Mrs. Witherspoon to sit on her butt and be quiet." 

Officer Pyland, who was busy arresting Toth, told Reese to stay in the car. Instead, she left the car and started ranting about how she was a U.S. citizen and allowed to "stand on American ground." Then she tried to play the celebrity card.

"Mrs. Witherspoon asked, 'Do you know my name?'" the officer recalled. "I answered, 'No, I don’t need to know your name.' I then added, 'right now.' Mrs. Witherspoon stated,'You’re about to find out who I am.' Mrs. Witherspoon also stated, 'You are going to be on national news.' I advised Mrs. Witherspoon that was fine." (Officer Pyland is awesome, BTW.) 

The Hollywood couple left the scene in handcuffs and were taken to the police station, where those lovely mug shots were snapped. They were released on bond at 3:30am, with a court hearing pending.

Early on Monday morning, Witherspoon released a public apology. "I clearly had one drink too many and I am deeply embarrassed about the things I said," she told the press. "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. I have nothing but respect for the police and I’m very sorry for my behavior."

The actress has already gone back to business as usual, showing up to the Sunday night premiere of her film Mud in New York City. But there's no doubt this incident is going to change things for Witherspoon, who prides herself on being one of Hollywood's most upstanding citizens. She makes a big show of her old-fashioned Southern morals. She doesn't do nude scenes (anymore). She takes younger actresses to task for partying too hard. And of course, she only takes film roles that bolster her reputation as America's sweetheart.

Seems like Reese's days as America's sweetheart are now over -- but that could actually be a blessing in disguise. Witherspoon hasn't had a hit since 2008 (unless you count the 2009 cartoon Monsters Vs. Aliens). Audiences still love her, but something isn't quite working. Why not use this mistake to embrace her edgier side, loosen up in interviews, maybe take some roles outside her comfort zone? We think she can pull it off -- provided she doesn't throw any more diva fits. And seriously, Reese -- if you and your husband have been drinking all night, get a cab.

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