Arresting a suspect for drunk driving on the basis of Facebook entries may not be all that it's cracked up to be. It happened recently in Michigan, but certain aspects of the arrest and prosecution for OWI may prove problematic for the government. The authorities arrested the woman after they saw incriminating evidence on her Facebook page.
They had responded to an early morning one-car accident on I-75. The driver of the vehicle had left it and fled on foot. The authorities allegedly found the person they were seeking in a hotel room. They accessed the hotel computer to allegedly observe a comment by the woman that she had been involved in an accident and was drunk.
Police also report that the woman admitted to consuming alcohol about two hours before the crash. They took a breath test, which showed .12 percent, police say. They also report that the suspect admitted to being in the vehicle but would not tell them who was driving. It is alleged that the front desk clerk stated that the woman had been drinking and admitted to driving the vehicle when it crashed.
There are various issues under Michigan law that criminal defense counsel will consider in determining whether there is a viable defense to OWI in the case. The seizure and access of the hotel computer may have invaded the guest's right to privacy. There are several issues regarding hearsay evidence that may be obstacles when it comes to finding the woman guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Other than her alleged hearsay comments that she was driving, the woman's version stated to police was that she was not driving. Whether these questions equate to a viable defense remains to be seen and is a matter to be evaluated after defense counsel has conducted a thorough investigation of the facts.
Source: clickondetroit.com, "Facebook messages lead to drunken driving arrest; Michigan...", John Steckroth, Sept. 7, 2017