Unlike their predecessors of 10 or 20 years ago, those who investigate and prosecute drunken driving crimes today have never-before-seen potential roadblocks and advantages, thanks to social media.
“It’s a brave new world, absolutely,” said Max Little, traffic safety resource prosecutor for The Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Association.
Social media can be a valuable asset to educate and inform the public or it can be a “buzzkill” when used to undercut law enforcement efforts, officials said.
“It’s a mixed bag,” Little said during a recent interview.
Montgomery County DUI checkpoint
“I think the social media coverage of sobriety checkpoints and roving patrols, et cetera, actually accomplishes one of the objectives of DUI enforcement, which is the deterrent effect. Just the fact that people are aware of different operations going on, it shows it’s on people’s minds. So from that perspective it’s not really a bad thing,” Little said.
If somebody is planning on going out drinking and they have advance notice of a checkpoint that night, hopefully, Little said, they’re going to arrange to have a designated driver or take public transportation and not gamble on crashing or getting arrested.
“It’s a forced multiplier for the high visibility enforcement. The more people are aware DUI counter measures are taking place, the less likely they are to take a chance,” Little said. “Any and everybody who’s tweeting there’s a checkpoint, to some extent, they’re doing the work of law enforcement because they’re further publicizing the enforcement efforts.”
An impediment to law enforcement efforts occurs when people use social media to warn others, who might be impaired, about the specific location of a DUI checkpoint.
“It’s a timely issue. Social media is a huge issue because as soon as somebody sees a checkpoint they start putting it out on Facebook and texting it and putting it on Twitter. So, it could cut down, maybe a little bit, on the numbers of people coming through,” said Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Bradford Richman, captain of the district attorney’s DUI prosecution unit.
Content credited to Carl Hessler Jr. firstname.lastname@example.org @MontcoCourtNews on Twitter