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Joe Don Rooney Speaks Out About His 2021 DUI & Sobriety: ‘My Life Has Been Changed Forever’

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Joe Don Rooney is looking forward to a fresh start in 2024. The former Rascal Flatts member spoke out on X Wednesday (Jan. 3) about his turbulent past few years, including his 2021 car crash and battle with alcoholism.

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Rooney started off his lengthy post by setting the record straight on a rumor that had been floating around. “I’m sorry it’s been a while since I’ve posted on any socials. It’s actually been a couple years since I’ve engaged with fans and friends on Twitter (now X) or Instagram But I figured today, at the beginning of this brand new year 2024, would be a good day to send a message out to the world. First off, I am alive! There have been so many rumors and opinions thrown around about me – but I’m finally healthy and ready for the world. And NO, I’m not transitioning to be a woman. That thought has never entered my mind. Nothing against the trans community whatsoever but I needed to set the record straight.”

He went on to detail lessons learned following the 2021 car crash and subsequent DUI near Franklin, Tenn.

“My life and career took a major detour at 4 [a.m.] in the early morning hours of Sep 9, 2021 when I ran square into a tree and about killed myself,” Rooney tweeted. “I was drunk and I was so far gone with my life – I was completely out of control and finished with trying to fight the fears, depression and anxieties that had spun me out in a way I’ve never experienced before. My drinking had been an issue for many years – and as they say in AA and treatment, it’s a progressive disease. I am living proof that the progressive nature of drinking can really ratchet up and as I grew older as an adult my drinking grew worse.”

Rooney noted that career pressures and personal mistakes he had made, in addition to “a lot of pain and trauma from my childhood and early on in my adult life, had become too much to bear.”

“I was not a good father – I was not a good husband – and I was not a good band mate to my business partners,” he said, referencing his former Rascal Flatts bandmates Gary LeVox and Jay DeMarcus. “I probably would’ve never taken responsibility for any of this if it hadn’t been for my car wreck on Sep 9, 2021. And btw, going to jail sucks! Fortunately, (and I truly believe this,) God lead me into that tree safely enough to not kill me – and luckily nobody else was involved and I didn’t injure or kill anyone. I could literally be in a Federal Prison for life right now. That is the reality of what my life had become.”

Rooney said that following the car crash, he spent months in treatment in Utah.

“When I first got there, I didn’t want to stay. I was ashamed of myself. I was so full of fear and guilt, that it took me all of the those 4 months to really start understanding treatment and the AA way and how to best utilize these new tools that I downloaded from the amazing clinicians, counselors and other patients there,” he said. “My life has been changed forever – and I’m grateful for the change.”

Rooney said he has now been sober for nearly 28 months.

“I never believed I could actually live my life without drinking. It had become such a huge part of my daily and nightly routine. I had tried to stop on my own in the past but the powerful nature of alcohol always found its way back into my life. I learned that I had to come to the realization that I was powerless over alcohol – and a power much greater than myself (and much greater than alcohol) was the only way to stop drinking and completely restore my sanity. God intervened and helped me to get my life back. With the help of my family and so many other professional clinical advisors and now numerous new sober forever friends, I’ve been able to get the train back on the tracks and live without the burden of alcohol.”

Looking forward in 2024, Rooney says his focus is on protecting his family and his newfound sobriety. In December 2023, Rooney and Tiffany Fallon finalized their divorce, more than two years after Rooney first filed for divorce in January 2021. Rooney and Fallon wed in 2006 and have three children together: Jagger Donovan, Raquel Blue and Devon Olivia.

“I have new healthy boundaries for the first time in my life. Only positive, loving, caring & understanding people may enter. It’s an absolute blessing in ways I can barely put into proper words. But for now, I’ll just say – thank you God!! I wish there was a way I could give back to God what all God has given to me – but moving forward, I will do my best to reflect God’s light of love and grace onto others like so many have done for me.”

He ended his note with gratefulness to his fans and supporters. “I hope y’all have an amazing 2024. Thank you for all the love, support and prayers. I promise you, I’ve felt them all and I’m super appreciative. Here’s to making the best of 2024 and living our most healthiest, happiest and goal oriented lives ever!!”

During their career, trio Rascal Flatts earned two top 10 hits on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100, including 2006’s “What Hurts the Most” and “Life Is a Highway.” The group also earned 14 Country Airplay chart-toppers, including “Bless the Broken Road” and “These Days.” They also won six CMA vocal group of the year honors.

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