Disney star Debby Ryan should be forgiven for her DUI, but it can't be forgotten

Apr 13, 2016 at 11:11 p.m. ET
Image: WENN

Disney’s Debby Ryan was arrested for a DUI on Tuesday in Los Angeles. The star was initially charged with a felony DUI when she was pulled over, but it was dropped down to a misdemeanor. According to the Los Angeles Police Department, Ryan was trying to make a left turn when she crashed into an oncoming car. When the police arrived, her blood alcohol level was a .11 — just slightly over the legal limit of .08.

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Ryan was released on bail and after spending some time thinking about what happened to her, she took to Twitter to talk about the entire incident. She wrote, "Over the last few days I have had the chance to think about my actions, and I wish I had used better judgement (sic). I recognize that I am a role model and have always worked hard to set a good example for my millions of fans. I am so sorry to disappoint everyone.”

DUIs are no joke and she definitely needs to take it seriously in her own life. But I wonder if she needs to apologize to her fans. At what point do we allow our favorite celebrities to live their lives and not force them to deal with personal and public shame?

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I am glad that she offered the apology anyway, though. More than apologizing for her actions, it teaches her young fans the importance of accountability and apologizing when you mess up. Before the times of social media, celebrities could get in trouble and rarely were forced to talk about it. Britney Spears still hasn’t acknowledged most of 2007. If celebrities did acknowledge anything, it was in a general statement from their publicist — something their fans couldn’t relate to or learn from.

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Now, on social media, kids get a real-time example of how adults handle real repercussions from mistakes they make. And I think Ryan did a great job at giving an example. She didn’t offer excuses, she expressed regret and she apologized. She doesn’t need to do more or less.