Riverside Police Not Yet Tweeting DUI Suspect Information

TwitterAs we mentioned in our blog last week, the Riverside Police Department announced that beginning this week, they would tweet out the names, ages, and towns of residence for anyone arrested for driving under the influence, but it appears they have backed off their controversial stance.

It’s uncertain why the police department has put a hold on tweeting out the incriminating information, but it’s certainly plausible that they felt pressure from both advocacy groups and individuals.

Attorney Sean Sullivan said individuals may not like that the Riverside Police Department will share the information on social media, but the arrest data is public knowledge.

“As I have discussed in prior stories, there is a continuing impact of new technology affecting the law and the legal system,” said Sullivan. “Here we see another example of this with the police department tweeting out names of DUI offenders. I am sure most people want to know how can the police do this. The answer is simple. They are just sharing public information. This is no different than police departments publishing the names of people in a police blotter in the local paper or utilizing a ‘Mug Shot Monday’ and releasing people’s mug shots. The police departments have the right to do this. Social media is really just another public forum where Court information can be shared with the general public.”

We’ll continue to follow this story to see if the Riverside PD decides to go forward with their plan, or if they shift gears.

Related source: Chicago Tribune

Riverside Police To Tweet Names Of DUI Offenders

TwitterEarlier this week, the Riverside Police Department announced they will begin tweeting the names, ages and towns of residence for any individual arrested for driving under the influence.

According to Riverside Police Chief Tow Weitzel, taking to Twitter is one way the department hopes to deter young people from drinking and driving.

“I’m hoping that seeing these names, and seeing the amount of arrests that Riverside makes, will send a message,” Weitzel said.

Weitzel added that the tweets will be sent from the account @PDRiverside.

Will It Work?

The goal of the program is to alert young adults to the dangers of drinking and driving. The reason the Riverside Police Department believes Twitter is the perfect medium to distribute their message is two-fold. According to Weitzel, drivers under the age of 30 account for the majority of drunk driving arrests, and they make up most of the department’s following on the social media site. Weitzel believes if the targeted Tweets prevent even one person from driving drunk, the campaign will be a success.

Although social media shaming has its fair share of critics, Weitzel emphasized that the department isn’t releasing any information that isn’t readily available under public information laws.

“It’s nothing that we’re not already giving out,” he said. “It’s just that we’re going to be sending it out ourselves, through our social media account.”

As noted above, the Twitter account will share the names, ages and towns of residence for anyone charged with a DUI after they post bond or make their first court appearance. The department will also tweet the names of drivers who are charged with possession of illegal drugs, and those who have been caught driving with a suspended or revoked license as a result of a previous drunk driving charge.

Weitzel announced that the tweets would begin Monday.