Florida Woman’s Arrest Demonstrates Social Media and Drunk Driving Do Not Mix

DUI_carA 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.

Former Lightning Player Arrested for DUI and Child Endangerment

dui_and_child_endangermentYou may recall Darryl Sydor from his days playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning and even bringing home a Stanley Cup in 2004. The former NHL defenseman was arrested for drunk driving Thursday night while taking his 12-year-old son to a youth hockey game. Sydor’s blood-alcohol level was .30, which is nearly four times the legal limit, and he reportedly demonstrated slow and slurred speech. Sydor was charged with two counts of second-degree drunk driving, due to having a child in the vehicle, and faces a maximum one-year jail sentence and a fine up to $3,000. Sydor’s court date has been set for October 12th.

What Happens if You Are Arrested for DUI with a Child in the Car?

As noted in the Sydor case, driving under the influence while a child is in the car with you is treated as a serious offense. Generally speaking, the presence of a minor (usually anyone under the age of 18 for DUI purposes) may increase fines, time incarcerated, and may result in classification of the DUI as a felony as opposed to a misdemeanor. This leaves a much more serious mark on one’s criminal record and could even make it difficult to obtain certain jobs or otherwise hinder personal decisions and your financial situation.

Further, plea-bargaining could be impacted as a judge and jury’s view of a defendant when children are involved can make this defense tactic a difficult one to use.

Penalties in Florida

If charged with child endangerment in the state of Florida, you could receive up to nine months in prison and a fine between $1,000 to $2,000. Additionally, you will be required to use an ignition interlock system for six months. If it’s your second offense, you could get up to 12 months in prison, a $2,000-$4,000 fine, and an ignition interlock on your vehicle for at least two years. See Florida Statute § 316.193(4).

It is highly recommended that you consult an attorney if you are involved in a DUI – especially one involving the presence of a child as you could face child endangerment charges. Contact TJ Grimaldi at McIntyre Thanasides Bringgold Elliott Grimaldi & Guito, P.A. right away to discuss your case.