Understanding how social media can affect DWI cases in Minnesota

Attorneys Jeffrey Sheridan and DeAnne Dulas stading up

Drivers throughout Minnesota who are believed to be intoxicated are frequently stopped by law enforcement. According to the state’s Department of Public Safety, an average of 70 people per day were arrested for DWI in 2013. Those charged with alcohol-related offenses often do not realize that their social media accounts, in addition to field sobriety, breath and blood tests, could be used against them.

Private settings do not guarantee privacy

Often, people believe that their social media accounts are safe because they have their profile settings set to private, not public. However, this is not necessarily the case. A person’s acquaintances and friends may not have their settings on private. As such, law enforcement officers could potentially access and view any of their posts. In some cases, authorities may go so far as to create a fake profile and send a friend request in order to gain access to the profile of a person who is under investigation.

After an arrest for DWI, people may delete potentially incriminating posts. However, social media companies can be subpoenaed for deleted content, CNN reports. Such posts can then be used as evidence at trial.

Establishing a timeline

In some cases, law enforcement can use people’s social media posts to establish a timeline for their activities before they were arrested. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites often timestamp photos and posts. Additionally, a person’s location may be identified when he or she posts to social media.

For example, a person checks in at a bar on Facebook. Then, a picture is posted of him holding an alcoholic beverage. Later, he updates his status with a post about how much he has had to drink. If he is arrested after leaving the bar, law enforcement could use these posts to approximate how long he was out drinking. Such posts could also be used as proof that he had consumed alcohol prior to being arrested for drunk driving.

Losing out on opportunities

Sometimes, people may be required to refrain from drinking alcohol as a part of their DWI case. Should they decide to have a drink and anything is posted to social media, it could negatively impact their situation. This could cost them the opportunity to participate in certain alcohol education or rehabilitation programs, or result in more serious penalties.

Working with an attorney

Being suspected of drunk driving in Minnesota is a serious offense. Law enforcement may use a person’s actions before he or she is stopped, during questioning and after his or her arrest to build a case for DWI. As such, those who have been charged with driving while intoxicated may benefit from seeking legal counsel. An attorney may advise them of their rights, and help them build a defense against the charges they are facing.

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