DWI and Social Media: The TikTok Video You Don’t Want to go Viral

Posted by Doug Murphy | Dec 21, 2020 | 0 Comments

Social media is part of our lives now. Whether we go out with friends or have a family party, we know that photos and videos will end up on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or Snapchat. Facebook is the new family photo album, and we've all gotten used to seeing our happy moments on the internet for all of our friends to see. While having a convenient record of fun events can be wonderful, social media also has a downside. What happens when moments you'd prefer to keep private end up online for the world to see, including the prosecutor on your DWI case and potential jurors?

I think we can all agree that getting arrested is one of the worst moments of your life. Even if you've done nothing wrong, it's humiliating and frightening. Having it happen in public or with many witnesses can be even more humbling. But what happens if people around you post what happened on social media channels? What if they post about an outing or event that happened before your DWI arrest? In another recent post, we discussed how you should avoid using social media after a DWI arrest. In this post, we'll discuss how to handle social media accounts and what other people post about you.

1. Don't Post on Your Accounts

When you're facing a possible court case for DWI, police can and will look at your public social media posts to develop a timeline for where you were, what you were doing, and who you were with before your arrest. The police may even try to friend you to access your private posts, photos, and videos. Even if investigators don't gain access to your private posts, they can look at other people's public posts from that day or evening if they know where you were.

It may go without saying, but as we discussed in our earlier article, you should never post about your DWI arrest on social media. You also shouldn't post photos or videos of any events that happened before your arrest. If you were at a bar downtown, don't post photos of you and your friends drinking from that evening. If you were at a party singing karaoke, don't post videos of your awesome rendition of “All My Ex's Live in Texas.” Even if you aren't posting anything incriminating, police can use your posts to figure out where you were and locate possible witnesses to question. Don't make this easy for them.

2. Lock Down Your Accounts

You should use the highest privacy settings possible on social media.

  • Make sure your posts on Facebook are only visible to friends.
  • On Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok make your account private.
  • On any social media account, never accept friend requests from people you don't know.
  • Go through all of your tagged photos and untag yourself in photos and videos posted by others.
  • If you've checked in or location marked anything you've posted, consider removing location information on your posts.

While you may be tempted to simply delete all of your accounts, be sure to discuss it with your attorney before doing so. In some cases, deleting your accounts may hurt rather than help your case.

3. Ask People to Take Photos or Video Down

After untagging yourself from photos or videos posted by your friends or family, you may need to ask that they take photos of you down as well. Taking down photos is extremely important if a friend tagged multiple people in the photos or has public posts. If the posts are public, police investigators can see them. If friends tagged other people with you at the time of your arrest or that the police know to be your friends, investigators could use other people's accounts to gain access to your private or tagged photos.

4. Avoid Texting or Emailing About Your Case

While you're in the process of trying to keep photos and videos off of social media, don't email and text your friends and family. Instead, pick up the phone and call them. You don't want texts or emails with potentially incriminating information to end up in the hands of investigators. When you call your loved ones, make sure you don't share information that the police could use against you if they call your friends or family as witnesses.

5. Let Your Attorney Know

Hire an expert attorney. Part of your attorney's job is to keep incriminating information about you out of the courtroom. If you know there's a viral social media post about your conduct before or during your DWI arrest, your attorney needs to know immediately to have the best chance of mitigating the damage it could cause.

It's easier to argue that photos and videos not directly relevant to your arrest shouldn't be admissible in court. But the more information you post about yourself online, and the more others post about you publicly online, the harder it is to keep unrelated but possibly damaging posts out of court.

While social media can be a wonderful way to stay in touch with far-flung friends and family, there are some things you simply don't want to go viral. It's best to keep personal matters private when you're facing a DWI arrest in Texas.

6. Hire a Board Certified Texas DWI Attorney

Attorney Doug Murphy has years of experience helping clients get positive outcomes for their DWI cases. Board Certified in DWI defense by the National College for DUI Defense, accredited by the American Bar Association and the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, you could not ask for a more expert attorney. He is one of only two lawyers in Texas Board Certified in both DWI defense and criminal law. Best Lawyers in America also recently named Doug the “Lawyer of the Year” for 2021 for DWI defense, thanks to the peer reviews of his fellow Houston-area lawyers. He also served two consecutive terms on the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association board of directors and a DWI Committee co-chair.

Doug is passionate about helping his Houston clients overcome a DWI charge and take back their lives. Call 713-229-8333 today to set up a consultation. You deserve the best advocate available.

About the Author

Doug Murphy

Doug Murphy is one of only two Texas lawyers Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and also in DWI Defense by the National College for DUI Defense, accredited by the American Bar Association and the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.


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