Ian F. Mann, P.A.
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Why social media can land you in trouble in a DUI case

Social media allows millions of people to express their thoughts online, but unfortunately, information and images that are posted on the internet can also be viewed by law enforcement. This might pose a problem if someone has been arrested for a Florida DUI incident. Anyone who is in the process of fighting DUI charges should be careful about saying anything about the case online, as social media can be used against a person in court.

Some people may believe that their social media posts are protected from searches by the Fourth Amendment. However, a person may waive these rights, even if unintentionally, by displaying information in a public forum. Some users may try to get around this by restricting their posts to a high privacy setting. However, such restrictions do not always work.

In the case of Facebook, if a user posts about a DUI, even if the post is only visible to the friends of the user, law enforcement may claim that the poster waived privacy concerns even if the post was meant for just a few people. An article on Socialnomics.net points out that a judge might claim that a social media post, although displayed on a private setting, still counts as being displayed publically.

There is also the possibility that law enforcement may proactively try to gain access to a person’s social media accounts. Sometimes a judge can restrict what investigators can look for. Still, that does not mean that other posts or pictures could not be seen accidently if the investigation team has access to an account.

Sometimes a social media post can actually get you arrested in the first place. A CNN report decribes instances of people posting about themselves drinking while driving, which have earned visits from the police and resulted in arrests. In one case, an Oregon teen posted an apologetic note for sideswiping cars while driving drunk. Though he later claimed it was a joke, the teen ended up with a court date for the comment.

The bottom line is that social media posts are extremely vulnerable to public view even if they are meant for a small audience, and that posting the wrong message or picture can land an unsuspecting social media user in big trouble with the law. Possible options for people charged with a DUI include abstaining from social media during the case and consulting with attorneys who understand Florida DUI laws about what to do with their social media.

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Ian F. Mann, P.A.
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Fort Myers, FL 33901

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