Many of us don't give a second thought to the pictures and message we post on social media. Before posting something online, it may be a good idea to consider whether your message could lead to trouble down the road. A 14-word post on a social media account led to the arrest and felony charges for a New Jersey woman who filed a false police report when she drove home drunk from a bar.
The incident occurred when the women was leaving a local bar after a festive evening. Seeing a police cruiser in the parking lot, she called 911 and reported an attack taking place at another location. When the police left the bar and responded to her 911 call, she drove home. She later posted the following message on her social media account:” "lmao.. 2 mins later the cop peals out.. silly piggies tricks r for u." The woman is being charged with several crimes, including filing a false police report.
Another incident occurred earlier this year in Florida, when a woman determined that she would live stream her attempt to drive home while legally over the limit. In the video she states that she is intoxicated, is driving with a flat tire and at one point states that she is completely disoriented and does not know where she is. Concerned observers urged her to stop driving, until they finally called her local police department. The police tracked her down via the streaming service and pulled her over for DUI. According to the news report she failed the field sobriety tests, refused a breathalyzer and has been charged with a DUI.
Social media is not only being used to report drunk driving incidents. It is also increasingly being accepted into evidence by the courts to obtain a conviction.
An article by CNN a few years ago reported that prosecutors are increasingly mining social media accounts for evidence. When they do find incriminating pictures or posts, the court sentences are coming down much harder on the defendants. In some cases, material posted online may be used by the government to arrest and charge an individual with a crime.
"In criminal cases, almost all evidence is discoverable and police can obtain the evidence," said Bradley Shear, a Washington-area lawyer who specializes in social media law. "It's just a matter of what hoops they have to jump through."
One issue is presenting the online content at the trial and having it accepted in as valid evidence. If is a picture or a video, like the streaming incident that occurred in Florida, then the burden of proof may be fairly easy.
“Once you put something out on the Internet, it's there forever,” said Hamilton Police Lt. Carl Sigmon. You need to be careful about what you actually put on the Internet because you never know where it's going to wind up.”
A lesson unfortunately learned a little too late for the 18-year-old Oregon teen who was arrested for a DUI after posting the following message on his social media account: “Drivin drunk… classic ;) but to whoever's vehicle i hit i am sorry. :P"
If you have posted an online message implicating drinking and driving, you may need an experienced DUI lawyer to prevent your arrest from ending in a conviction. With over 30 years of experience defending people facing a DUI in the East Bay, Lynn Gorelick understands the local laws and penalties involved. I Contact a local East Bay DUI defense attorney who understands the DUI charges you are facing, and is familiar with the local laws, prosecutors and the courts.