Impact of Social Media on Your DWI Case
How Social Media can Affect Your DWI Case
Spend 20 minutes scrolling through the comments section of a popular post on Facebook or Twitter. Chances are it is filled with all sorts of inappropriate statements. Research shows that people generally say and do things online that they would never consider saying or doing in person…like posting about a DWI arrest.
Take a moment and look through your old social media posts. Do you see comments about alcohol? Drugs? What about pictures or videos? Before we go any further, let’s be absolutely clear: Do not do it. Just do not do it. We are all tempted to share the highlights of our fun times with friends and family, but even if set to ‘private,’ these highlights can often be damning if we are charged with a crime.
So, the next time you are out with friends at a bar or restaurant enjoying a few drinks, think twice before snapping those quick photos. Or, if you must, take the picture but do not post it online. Here are a few considerations about how social media can affect your DWI case.
Social Media is Evidence and is Not Generally Considered Private
This is probably no surprise to most people, but what you say on social media is public. Even if you set your profile and comments “private,” there is a good chance a judge will allow it to be used against you at trial.
In one federal court case, a judge found that “non-public” Facebook posts were protected as private under federal law because they were not accessible to the general public. Nevertheless, the judge also found that they were still admissible and not protected under federal privacy laws, because of a small exception. The individual lost her job because she sent a private message to a co-worker, who, in turn, took a screenshot, printed it, and then sent it to the boss. See Ehling v. Monmouth-Ocean Hospital Serv. Corp., 961 F. Supp. 2d 659 (D.N.J. 2013).
Pictures and Videos Say a Thousand Words
Imagine an injured victim in court complaining that she lost months from work and was unable to carry on her day-to-day affairs due to a serious injury. Now imagine a defense attorney showing large, colorful photos of that same victim enjoying cocktails in Las Vegas just weeks after the alleged accident. Even the best attorney would have a challenge recovering from the damage done by such images. Many great cases have been lost due to a careless social media post that undermines the seriousness of an injured person’s case.
The same thing is true of the defendant who had just a single beer early one afternoon but is arrested and charged with DWI. The police claim the man “smelled like alcohol” and “stumbled and could hardly stand.” This person may have witnesses who are prepared to testify, a savvy attorney with a strong defense strategy, and be well on his way to an acquittal. Now enter the photo of him with a beer, standing on a table. The picture does not tell the true story. But it is hard to overcome the bias and negative impact a bad photo can have once viewed by a jury.
By now, most people realize that cell phone data can be recovered to determine if a driver was making a call, sending a text, or in some other way operating a device at a certain time and place. Facebook has a GPS feature that allows users to automatically show where they were when posting. When this feature is turned on, Facebook automatically shows the location where the user was at the time he or she made a post or uploaded a video or picture. Imagine trying to argue you had only one beer when photos posted to social media over a six-hour period all show the local tavern.
Call Our Experienced Long Island DWI Lawyer Immediately After a Drunk Driving Arrest
If you are charged with DWI, contact an experienced Long Island drunk driving defense lawyers right away. Your attorney can review the evidence and protect your rights. But remember, when you drink, drink responsibly. Do not post pictures of your fun times on social media, or else you risk giving the police and prosecutors powerful evidence against you. If you are charged with an alcohol-related offense, know your DWI rights and call (888) DUI-Lawyer today to schedule your free consultation.