How Social Media Can Wreak Havoc On Your DUI Case - Your Questions Answered

Posted by Richard Lawson | Jan 27, 2017 | 0 Comments

They operate in two wildly different spheres - the real world and cyberspace - but social media and the road have frequent interplay, and the aftermath of that interplay is usually quite severe. Being cognizant of how social media can impact your roadside affairs could save your driving record from some tragic black marks. And we're not just talking about gunning it for the Snapchat speed filter (but don't do that either.)

Everything you post can and will be held against you.

Facebook privacy settings may safeguard against your ex's soft-core stalking, but they will not protect your posts from legal scrutiny. There have been multiple instances of DUI prosecution bolstering their case with the accused's social media accounts.

A 2013 wrong-way crash saw a 20 year old imbibe two fishbowl-sized margaritas before she struck and killed two other young women on the highway. Across media outlets, this case was referred to as “2 drunk 2 care,” the phrase tweeted minutes before the fatal crash. Her twitter bio moniker, “Pot Princess,” was likewise aired across the media. Granted, this is one of the most extreme cases where social media acted as sealant in a prosecution's case - fate-sealant, if you will. But tweets and snaps still risk dooming a case, even for first-time offenders.

Social media posts and pictures can be used to reconstruct a timeline of a night's events, so everyone should take care in what they put up, even if they are of age or don't plan to drive. We live in an age that leaves very little wiggle room for subjectivity - when everything can be captured, and any stray thought seduced into documentation (that empty status box beckons, “What's on your mind?”), you must tread lightly with social sharing. Careless, compulsory documentation has become today's norm, but refraining from oversharing can be the difference between an acquittal and a jail sentence. A post or image being misconstrued or exaggerated is perhaps the worst danger the accused can face, so remember, THINK BEFORE YOU POST.

This also entails staying mum even after an incident. Refrain from discussing your case on social media in any way, shape or form. Don't vent. Don't DM your mom. Don't express anger or even remorse over your part, however slight, as this can all be accessed by the prosecution and used in the case against you. Establishing your credibility in the courtroom is of the utmost importance, and a single damaging post can wreak havoc on your case, credibility, character portrait, and ultimately your record.

Sometimes social media posts have been the sole evidence used to convict drivers. An 18-year-old in Astoria, Oregon posted a Facebook status about hitting another vehicle while “drivin drunk... ;)” Law enforcement arrived at his home shortly afterward, and after matching damaged vehicle pieces from the scene to his vehicle, he was arrested. No one was injured, but the boy insists his post was a joke and that the side swipe was due to icy conditions. Although prosecution was unable to prove that he was indeed intoxicated, the post alone connected him to the incident and he received negligent driving charges. But remember, a prosecution won't only pounce on easy bait like “drivin drunk... ;)”; less overt posts can be used or pieced together, to the same effect.

But wait, don't I have the right to privacy? Is nosing through my social media unreasonable search and seizure? In a word, no. Although your fourth amendment rights protect you from unreasonable search and seizure, the law on social media privacy is still developing and the lines are fuzzy at best. Do you accept friend requests from unknown individuals? Is your privacy setting set to friends of friends? Can your friends elect to allow law enforcement access to their account? Even if your content is directly protected by strong privacy settings, there are a number of loopholes available to law enforcement or prosecutors.

Should I delete incriminating social media posts? Your attorney can never advise you to delete anything posting on social media because that is akin to potentially destroying evidence. You must decide for yourself and face the consequences of whether you keep any posts or delete them. However, whatever decision you make, keep your attorney privy to all social media platforms you use and all posts you have made around the time of the incident. Bear in mind even deleted content can be recovered and then subpoenaed

If you are accused of a DUI in Gwinnett County, do not hesitate to contact attorney Richard Lawson. With an arsenal of skills and years of experience, Richard Lawson can help guide you through this stressful, confusing experience while using all tools and tactics available for your defense.

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Richard S. Lawson is passionate about intoxicated driving defense. Unlike some attorneys, Mr. Lawson devotes 100% of his legal practice to helping people stand up for their rights against DUI charges. For more than 20 years, Mr. Lawson has dutifully fought for his clients' freedom, resolving more 4,900 impaired driving cases during the course of his career. Today, Mr. Lawson has developed a reputation as a skilled negotiator and continues to help clients by fighting to keep them out of jail.


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