Younger people have simply grown up in a world where sharing the details of their daily life with media—not just to intimate friends—seems totally normal. Unfortunately, that sense of normalcy, coupled with an incomplete understanding of just how internet savvy the police are these days, can land you in jail. If you're used to posting about the details of your life online, you need to understand where to draw the line—especially if it involves drinking or drug use and driving.
The police don't have to catch you in the act in order to charge you with a DUI.
This fact is what tends to trip up a lot of people—after all, "driving" would seem like it is a major part of any DUI charge. What most people don't know is that the laws in many states are broadly worded—most of the time all the prosecution has to prove is that
- You drove a motor vehicle of some sort.
- You were drunk or under the influence of drugs at the time.
That means that you most certainly don't have to be caught in the act in order to find the police at the door, long after your car is parked and you've sobered up.
Posting to social media about your escapade will probably get you caught.
Think about your social media accounts for a moment. Do you have all of them set to the strictest privacy settings? Even if you do, do you actually know every person who is on your "friend" list, or have you met some of them only through your shared interests online? If you do know everyone personally, can you say with authority that they would never tip off the police, even if you did something like drink and drive and then post about it?
Take the case of Jacob Cox-Brown, from Oregon. He hit another car while drinking and driving, but fled the scene and left the police without any clues—until he acknowledged what he did on Facebook in a lighthearted post and a friend promptly turned him in. While he escaped a drunk driving charge because of a lack of evidence, he was charged with two counts of failing to perform the duties of a driver due to the hit and run.
A Kentucky man whose Facebook post caught the attention of an off-duty officer wasn't so lucky. The man was arrested for drinking and driving after posting a photo, complete with the speedometer showing, as he was driving with an open bottle of gin.
Posting on social media can also make it harder to get a lenient sentence.
Generally speaking, make the wisest choice and don't get behind the wheel if you've been drinking or using drugs. If you do make a mistake, however, don't compound it by handing the prosecution all of the evidence that they need to arrest and convict you. Keep in mind that posting about something that you know is illegal and dangerous—even if you made it home safely—could make it harder to negotiate a plea deal with prosecutors or get a favorable sentence from the judge. The prosecutor and judge may see your social media posts as an inability or unwillingness to take the issue seriously and show the proper contrition expected from someone who has violated the law and endangered other people. Your actions could even be interpreted as "bragging," which is not what you want the judge to believe when your sentence is handed down.
In addition, situations that involve social media posts and DUIs are often seen as newsworthy events—so they attract a lot of publicity. In some jurisdictions, that could encourage a judge or prosecutor who is up for reelection to take a hardline approach to your case in order to avoid appearing soft on DUI-related crimes.
For more information on what to do if you are arrested on a DUI charge over a social media post, contact a DUI attorney.