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How Social Media Can Be Used Against You in a DUI Case

January 29, 2016 • DUI Defense

Recently, law enforcement officers in Florida received multiple phone calls alerting them to the fact someone was driving drunk on local roads. The calls were very unusual because the concerned callers weren't other motorists. Instead, USA Today reports people were calling and indicating a woman was live streaming herself driving while under the influence of alcohol.

The driver was using a social media app called Periscope to broadcast herself worldwide as she drove with a flat tire while impaired by alcohol. After the calls came in, law enforcement officers pinpointed the driver's location from the streaming video and were able to approach her.

She was observed hitting the curb with the right front tire of her vehicle, and she was given field sobriety tests and a breathalyzer test. She failed the tests and was arrested for impaired driving.  Police will now be trained on how to use Periscope in case any similar incidents occur.

While this case was unusual, it is far from the first time that a person has been caught on suspicion of impaired driving as a result of social media posts.  Evidence of impaired driving which defendants post online can and will be used against those who are facing charges.

A Tallahassee drunk driving lawyer can provide insight into how to avoid making incriminating statements online and can help you determine if you can challenge the admission of social media evidence which prosecutors may already have to use in your case.

Social Media in DUI Cases

Social media has become widespread and many people post pictures, status updates and other personal identifying information, including details about their locations. In some cases, these status updates and other postings help police to find people who are driving drunk or caused collisions while driving impaired. 

In 2012, for example, ABC News reported on a woman who hit a car carrying four teenagers.  After the accident, the woman posted “My dumb bass got a DUI and I hit a car...LOL” on Facebook.  The woman faced four criminal charges after the accident, including a DUI charge, and she was told to shut down her Facebook page. Because she did not do so, she was held in contempt by the judge and jailed for two days.

Even when drivers don't actively post videos of themselves driving drunk, and even when drivers don't admit online that they drove drunk, police and prosecutors can still comb through online information in an effort to make a stronger case against a defendant who has been charged with impaired driving. 

For example, police could use pictures posted on your page and on the pages of your friends to reconstruct the events leading up to the DUI accident in an effort to help show how much alcohol or drugs you consumed over the course of the night.

The law is evolving related to how social media evidence can be used, but prosecutors may try to introduce most publicly-posted pictures and statements made online to help prove you violated the law if you were driving while impaired.  You should be careful about what you post online and contact a drunk driving lawyer to provide assistance with making an argument for why anything you have already posted should not be admitted in any DUI case against you.