While it isn’t unusual for many people to share intimate details of their daily lives on social media websites, these platforms create an misunderstood opportunity for individuals to disclose possible evidence of crime. As if privacy were so passé. For better or worse, even a quick search online reveals countless videos being hosted on YouTube showing violent fights, vandalisms, burglaries and other criminal behaviors. Not surprisingly, local law enforcement agencies have taken to these platforms as another investigative tool in solving crime.
For example, San Francisco regularly employs what is termed the “Instagram Officer” who surveils the photo-sharing social media website to track down criminals who post pictures of illegal activity. Overall, it’s becoming quite common for individuals across the country to incriminate themselves by simply sharing too much, i.e., stolen goods, selling drugs, and the unlawful possession of firearms here, there, and just about everywhere.
Comes Now The Defendant…
“Let’s see if I get a DUI people, I don’t think I will!” says the inebriated 23 year old Whitney Beall to her followers during a live-stream on the new social media app Periscope just moments before driving her car and getting pulled over by police officers for drunken driving. Beall, who was arrested after viewers of her publicly-broadcasted stream pleaded with her to stop and later tipped her to the local police, had begun the night by inviting her Periscope followers to join her during a bar-hopping crusade in downtown Lakeland, Florida.
As the night grew on, Beall became noticeably intoxicated and when she eventually decided to get behind the wheel, several followers sent her text messages, telling her to pull over for her own safety and the safety of others. Beall persisted, however, and as she continued to drive drunk she made several incriminating statements while broadcasting on her live stream: “I’m so f—ing drunk right now,” and “I’m not even paying attention to the driving… Please supervise me right now, because I’m driving super drunk right now.”
Eventually, Beall’s followers reached out to the local police dispatchers and notified them of the drunken driving happening live on Periscope, a Twitter-owned app. While it took some time to learn of Beall’s exact location, one Lakeland officer downloaded the app to his personal phone to witness the live stream. After discovering her whereabouts and just as officers caught up to her vehicle, her Toyota Corolla hit a curb causing damage to the tire and forcing the stop.
Officers then administered a field sobriety test, which she failed, and although Beall refused the breathalyzer test, one officer stated her drunkenness “was a 10” on a scale of one to ten. Beall was then arrested for drunken driving, transported to the local county jail, and had her car impounded. She was released on $500 bail the following day.
With a little 20/20 hindsight, Baell publicly expressed remorse soon after, saying what had happened was a “big mistake.”
If you’ve been arrested in Alameda County: Berkeley, Oakland, Alameda, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, Hayward, Newark, Union City, Fremont, Pleasanton, Dublin, or Livermore, please give us a call for an evaluation of your case. I doubt it will be quite as compelling as the one outlined above, and that’s a good thing.