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‘Tiger King’ Star Dillon Passage Arrested For Driving While Intoxicated In Texas

Dillon Passage, who is married to Joe Exotic, allegedly mentioned his connection to the popular Netflix docu-series during the traffic stop — but his fame didn't matter much to law enforcement officers.

By Jill Sederstrom
Dillon Passage Pd

Dillon Passage, who appeared in the hit docu-series “Tiger King,” was arrested over the weekend in Texas for driving while intoxicated.

Passage, who is married to “Tiger King” zookeeper Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage — also known as Joe Exotic — was pulled over by Manor Police early Sunday morning around 1:30 a.m., according to a statement obtained by Oxygen.com.

The couple rose to fame this spring after the hugely successful Netflix docu-series “Tiger King” was released. Passage allegedly tried to use his connection to the series during the weekend traffic stop. 

“[He] made officers aware of his social status and marriage to famed Joe Maldonado-Passage (Tiger King) on the scene of the incident,” authorities said in the statement.

But the connection failed to make much of an impact on the law enforcement officers at the scene.

“Regardless of social status, The Manor Police Department will treat every person fairly and enforce violations of law no matter who the violator may be,” police said. “Driving while intoxicated is a dangerous violation that takes the lives of innocent people to include the young lady who was killed less than a mile from this incident location just days before.”

Police first made contact with Passage along U.S. Highway 290 after noticing a black 2020 Dodge Challenger stopped along the shoulder of the highway.

“He was stopped on the side of the road without any tail lights on,” Manor Police Sgt. Craig Struble told Oxygen.com.

The officer made contact with Passage and claimed he immediately noticed “slurred speech,” according to an arrest affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com. Passage told the officer he was waiting for his sister and that the “car suddenly turned off.”

The 25-year-old also allegedly admitted that he had been out drinking that night at a rooftop bar and patio and had three beers, authorities said. He later told the officer that he “may be a bit intoxicated,” the affidavit stated.

Struble told Oxygen.com that Passage believed he was in the city of Belton, where he lives, but he was actually in Manor, a city about an hour away from Belton. Passage also allegedly believed it was 7 p.m., when it was actually 1:30 a.m., according to the affidavit.

Police determined he “was not fit to safely operate his vehicle” and he was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated, according to the statement.

Struble said he was taken into custody without incident, and that he was also arrested on an outstanding warrant from another jurisdiction for misdemeanor resisting arrest, search or transport He was booked into the Travis County Jail on a $3,000 bond, local station KXAN reports.

Shortly after the arrest, Maldondo-Passage — who is currently serving a lengthy prison sentence — addressed his husband’s legal issues.

“In regards to Dillon’s recent troubles, I am just glad that no one was hurt learning such a lesson that drinking and driving is something to take very seriously,” he wrote on Instagram. “I love my husband and will be there for him, just as he has been there for me. If we all learn something from this, it is not ok to be irresponsible and drink and drive.”

Maldondo-Passage went on to call out what he called the “flawed system” that landed him in prison after he was found guilty in a murder-for-hire plot targeting animal rights activist Carole Baskin. He was sentenced in January to 22 years in federal prison for the plot and for violating multiple wildlife laws while running his zoo.

Despite the conviction, he continues to proclaim his innocence.

“I hope that the news media that will cover this sees that a flawed system not only affects the person’s life, but it also affects that person’s entire family,” Maldonado-Passage wrote. “Alcohol was not a problem for Dillion when I was home.”

Passage, who married the eccentric former zoo owner on Dec. 11, 2017, shortly after they met, had previously told PEOPLE that he was unable to have regular communication with his husband since he began his prison sentence.

“It’s not something that is a day-to-day thing,” he said. “It’s kind of my normal life now. It’s kind of weird to say, but I’ve kind of gotten used to our situation.”

Passage said the couple is still “hoping for the best” in possible future legal action in Maldonado-Passage's case.