How often do you update your Facebook page? How many times a day do you Tweet? Is your life chronicled on Instagram? Most people use at least one of these social media options on a regular basis to keep in touch with distant friends and family and/or to find out what’s happening nearby. What you may not have considered is how posting to social media could lead to an arrest and/or conviction for driving under the influence (DUI).
Social Media in the 21st Century
As difficult as it may be for the younger generations to believe, “social media” didn’t exist until relatively recently. As the internet grew at (literally) the speed of light, new ways of communicating seemed to appear on a weekly basis. First, email replaced snail mail. Not long after that, “chat rooms” that allowed you to talk to someone around the world (anonymously) in real time became the rage. It wasn’t until social media exploded across the internet, however, that the real change occurred in our method of communicating. Facebook, in particular, changed everything. Today, almost everyone from ten to 100 stays connected using Facebook. The younger generation has embraced even newer social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. What do all of these social media outlets have in common? They all disseminate posts, photos, and even videos to the general public. Moreover, people most often post when they are having fun. Fun often includes consuming alcohol which means a significant number of potentially damaging posts – from a legal standpoint — make their way onto social media sites. If the individual who posted the photo, video, or even just a written update ends up getting arrested shortly thereafter, that post can end up as the State’s most damaging evidence at the subsequent trial.
Don’t Count on Privacy
Many people think they can control what they share by adjusting their account’s privacy settings so that only certain people can see what they post. First, that doesn’t really keep your posts from spreading as most people should realize by now. Second, it does not keep the posts from becoming admissible in court. The prosecution does not necessarily have to rely solely on evidence from the arrest to get a DUI conviction. They can subpoena and use evidence from your social media accounts. Deleting a post you made when you weren’t thinking clearly won’t save you either. Deleting incriminating posts can be interpreted as the intentional destruction of evidence and could lead to harsher penalties.
Examples of Social Media Posts Used as Evidence
Before you assume that people would surely think before they post, or that law enforcement isn’t paying attention, think again. The news is literally full of examples of how social media posts have been used to convict people of DUI. In 2014 a Michigan woman posted on Facebook about how lucky she was that she passed a breathalyzer test the day after St. Patrick’s Day, when she had been drinking. Unfortunately, drinking at all was a violation of her probation from a 2012 DUI arrest and conviction. A police officer happened to see her post and used it as evidence against her. Another woman was involved in a drunk driving collision, after which she drove to a nearby hotel and used the hotel computer to post about the crash on her Facebook page. When the police arrived, the hotel computer was still open to her Facebook account, providing them with a running narrative of what happened. An Ohio man was arrested a couple of years ago after posting a video of himself while driving drunk to his Facebook page. Someone alerted the local sheriff’s office and he was arrested and charged with DUI. These are just a few examples of the numerous arrests and convictions that have occurred as a direct result of social media posts involving drinking and driving. Don’t ever make the mistake counting on the privacy settings on your social media accounts either. The rule is simple: Assume that anything you post on social media is being sent directly to a law enforcement officer. If you won’t want the police to read/view the post, don’t post it.
Contact Nebraska DUI Lawyers at Petersen Law Office
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in the State of Nebraska, it is always in your best interest to consult directly with a DUI defense attorney about the specific facts and circumstances of your case. Contact the Nebraska DUI lawyers at Petersen Law Office 24 hours a day at 402-513-2180 to discuss your case with an experienced DUI defense lawyer.
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