Dumb Criminal of the Week: The Drunk Driver Who Boasted About It on Facebook

Crime
A blog about murder, theft, and other wickedness.
Jan. 4 2013 2:23 PM

Dumb Criminal of the Week: The Drunk Driver Who Boasted About It on Facebook

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Photo by Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images.

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Crime: Failing to perform the duties of a driver.

Fatal mistake: Oversharing.

The circumstances: Whatever you might think of Facebook, few would dispute that it’s a useful tool for informing friends about the important moments in your life—a new baby, for instance, or a successful Christmas dinner. So it’s hardly surprising that, after a rousing New Year’s Eve spent getting all boozy and sideswiping cars, 18-year-old Astoria, Ore., resident Jacob Cox-Brown thought it appropriate to share the news with a brief status update: “Drivin drunk ... classsic ;) but to whoever's vehicle i hit i am sorry. :P”

Unfortunately for Cox-Brown, cops enjoy perusing Facebook, too, especially when it helps them close out cases that would otherwise go unsolved. “Astoria Police have an active social media presence,” the local police department crowed in a press release. “When you post ‘Drivin drunk... classsic ;) but to whoever's vehicle i hit i am sorry. :P’ on Facebook you have to figure that it is not going to stay private long.” As it turns out, the cops had already been investigating a hit-and-run that damaged two cars when one of Cox-Brown’s friends forwarded his status update to Officer Nicole Riley. It didn’t take long for the police to match Cox-Brown’s car with vehicular debris left at the scene of the crime.

Boasting online about having driven drunk doesn’t count as evidence that you actually drove drunk, so Cox-Brown escaped serious charges. But he was arrested on two counts of “failing to perform the duties of a driver”—a Class A misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $6,250 fine—and hauled off to Clatsop County Jail. :(

How he could’ve been a lot smarter: Cox-Brown could’ve refrained from posting about his crime entirely. I understand that sometimes a guy wants to commemorate his destructive behavior. But it’s much wiser to write about it in your journal or anonymously tag some wall somewhere.

How he could’ve been a little smarter: Post the same exact message on MySpace, where nobody would ever read it.

How he could’ve been a little dumber: “Um, think again, Officer. I winked in the status update. That means you can't use it against me.”

How he could’ve been a lot dumber: “Drivin drunk … classsic ;) No, seriously, I’m drivin drunk right now, as I type this. Just cruisin down Fifth Street, bangin into cars, havin a blast. Stop by and say hi! :P.”

Ultimate Dumbness Ranking (UDR): Cox-Brown will probably just get probation, so the ultimate consequences here are minor, but this was still very stupid. People, for the last time, the police have computers, and Facebook is not an impenetrable repository of secrets. Five out of 10 for Jacob Cox-Brown.

Justin Peters is a writer for Slate. He is working on a book about Aaron Swartz, copyright, and the rise of “free culture.” Email him at justintrevett@fastmail.fm.

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