Understanding the impact of social media on New York drunk driving cases

Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Following an arrest for drunk driving, law enforcement officers could use people’s social media accounts to obtain evidence against them.

People of all ages in New York and throughout the U.S., use social media sites; including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. In fact, Facebook reported an average of 968 million daily active users for June of 2015. These sites are popular ways for people to stay in contact with friends and family, as well as to share information about themselves and their experiences. When people are arrested for drunk driving, however, social media posts could negatively impact their cases.

Establishing a timeline

Status updates and photos posted on social media accounts frequently include locations and timestamps. The authorities, then, may use these posts to get an idea of people's activities before their arrests. This may help them to prove that a driver did indeed consume alcohol before getting behind the wheel.

For example, a man posts to his Facebook account when he arrives at the bar for a night out with friends. Throughout the evening, he and his friends post pictures showing them consuming alcoholic beverages. Before going home, the man posts to his wall about how much he has had to drink. The man is pulled over by law enforcement on his way home and is charged with drunk driving. Law enforcement could use the posts on his social media account to estimate how long he had been out and how much alcohol he had consumed.

Private settings do not promise privacy

Often, people believe that unwanted eyes will not see their social media accounts because their privacy settings are set to private. While that may help, it does not always ensure a person's privacy. Sometimes people's social media connections do not have their settings on private. This may allow the authorities to see pictures and updates that they post or are tagged in.

Additionally, law enforcement officers may even create fake profiles, according to a CNN report. They then send a friend request from these phony accounts to people who are under investigation in order to gain access to their social media accounts.

Impact on penalties

There are situations when people are required to refrain from consuming alcohol as a part of their DUI cases. If they decide to consume an alcoholic beverage and anything is posted to social media about it, it could have a negative effect on their situations. In some cases, this could cost people the opportunity to participate in alcoholic treatment, rehabilitation or education programs. As a result, they could face more severe potential penalties.

Obtain legal representation

Even just the accusation of driving drunk can have a significant impact on New Yorkers' futures. In addition to facing potentially severe consequences, a DUI conviction may also impact a person's employment opportunities. Therefore, those who have been charged with this, or other alcohol-related offenses, may benefit from working with an attorney. A legal representative may advise them of their rights, as well as how to handle their social media accounts until their cases are resolved.