A 23 year-old Lakeland woman live-streamed herself as she was drunk driving home from a bar on Saturday night. Numerous calls were placed to the Lakeland Police Department regarding a possible drunk driver from users of an app called Periscope. Whitney Beall was said to have broadcast the events of her evening using the app, including her frightening drive home, where she was said to have been speeding, swerving and running off the road. The app is a live video streaming platform that allows you to record and broadcast to all parts of the world. Some app users even direct-messaged Beall asking her to please stop driving before she hurt someone.
While broadcasting herself, Beall said, “I’m driving home drunk, let’s see if I get a DUI. I don’t think I will.” Officers were able to identify Beall’s whereabouts from locations shown on her live video stream and she was arrested and charged with DUI.
Beall’s arrest is part of a growing trend of law enforcement monitoring social media for people who may be violating the law. Police are now using social media more and more with respect to criminal cases. In fact, LexisNexis found that 4 out of 5 police officers say they rely on social media to aid in investigations.
According to the survey, law enforcement officials are using social media as follows:
- 78 percent expect to increase their social media usage in the next year
- 82 percent think monitoring is valuable for investigations
- 67 percent use social media platforms to anticipate crimes
- 73 percent believe monitoring helps solve investigations more quickly
- 93 percent of police departments use Facebook and 67 percent monitor YouTube
- Twitter usage increased to 50 percent from 29 percent in 2012
Police officers find social media monitoring to be a useful tool in that it allows them to obtain real-time data and potentially prevent a crime before it occurs or track a suspect following criminal activity. Digital trails are becoming an increasingly popular way of locating individuals. For example, In May, a man was charged with robbing a bank in Virginia after he posted a picture on Instagram of a note he gave to a teller during the incident.
Beall’s Periscope incident is just another example of how law enforcement can use social media platforms to track alleged criminals. Thankfully in this case no one was hurt. If you have questions related to Florida DUI, contact TJ Grimaldi at McIntyre Thanasides Bringgold Elliott Grimaldi & Guito, P.A.