Social Media Sentencing- DUI Sentencing Enhanced because of “Drunk in Florida” Facebook Photos

January 29th, 2010

From the Buffalo News (H/T Sentencing Blog), Drunk driver gets into more trouble after posting Facebook photo:

Ashley M. Sullivan is in Niagara County Jail, and Facebook may be to blame as much as the car crash that killed a Niagara Falls man.

Sullivan, 17, of Linden Avenue, North Tonawanda, was sentenced Wednesday afternoon to six months in the County Jail and five years’ probation for crashing her car while drunk and killing her boyfriend May 30 on Sweeney Street in North Tonawanda.  She pleaded guilty Nov. 18 to criminally negligent homicide and misdemeanor driving while intoxicated.

The Buffalo News has learned that Sullivan went to Florida a month after the crash and posted a photo on her Facebook Web page captioned, “Drunk in Florida.”

“I’m troubled by your conduct since the crash,” County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III told Sullivan, “and that’s the reason for the jail sentence.”  Murphy also refused to grant Sullivan youthful offender status for the same reason.  “I don’t believe the defendant has earned it,” the judge said.

Professor Berman remarks:

Nevertheless, the impact here of a social-media message on Facebook adds an extra layer to this common sentencing issue.  Not only does the sentencing judge here learn that the underage defendant was drinking heavily again not long after having just killed her boyfriend via drinking and driving, but he also discovers that she does not have the good sense not to brag to friends about her persistent misbehavior

As people put more and more embarrassing, and in this case, incriminating, information on the web, the justice system undoubtedly will continue to take notice. Interesting.