SnapChat, Speed, and Statutes

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You’re familiar with Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter… and you’ve probably heard of Snapchat, the social media application that allows users to share photos and other content that disappear seconds after being viewed.  Snapchat also allows users to prominently display the speed at which they are traveling when using the app, a feature that is causing more scrutiny than perhaps originally intended.  Young drivers are using the speed filter feature while driving at excessive speeds so they can boast about it to their friends, causing tumult when their daring driving feats have harmful consequences.

In one case in Georgia, an 18 year old woman was driving in excess of 100 MPH, using her Snapchat speed filter to document her surplus speed to friends.  She crashed into another vehicle at 107 MPH, leaving the occupant with permanent brain damage.

Victims of such Snapchat-distracted driver crashes have filed lawsuits suing both the distracted driver who caused the accident as well as Snapchat.  In this aforementioned Georgia case, the judge’s ruling found fault with the young driver, but not with Snapchat.  The judge cited that Snapchat was protected by the Communications Decency Act, a law that provides immunity to the interactive computer service since they are not the publisher or speaker of the communicated information.  In addition, Snapchat noted that it has positioned itself as a provider of strong warnings to discourage anyone from using the app while driving.

The next question is whether the relevant digital evidence found in Snapchat will be allowed in court.  Thus far, a handful of cases involving juvenile delinquency have included convictions resulting from screenshots (taken by witnesses) of Snapchat videos immediately before the videos were automatically deleted by the social media platform.

Snapchat now has a Law Enforcement Guide on its site that covers the types of data that are possible to recover and how to request that data with a subpoena, search warrant, or court order. [1]

Another important question is if Snapchat will have a legal duty to restrict use of the speed filter since it appears that the main utilization for this tool is to enable users to document themselves driving at excessive speeds.  Although this appears to be fun and exciting for many Snapchat users and young drivers, there will be an ongoing debate regarding whether the damage caused by the use of the speed filter tool outweighs the benefits of it.

Goldman & Daszkal, P.A.

Since 1990, Goldman & Daszkal, P.A. has provided reputable legal representation to people throughout Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade Counties.  The firm has helped thousands of individuals recover compensation from motor vehicle and boating accidents, slip and fall accidents, product defect and liability cases, pharmacy errors, and negligent security cases to cover medical expenses, pay bills, take care of their families, and return to work.  Goldman & Daszkal, P.A. can help you get the relief you need to start living your life again after a serious injury.  For a free and confidential consultation, contact Goldman & Daszkal, P.A., at (954) 428-9333.

[1] https://storage.googleapis.com/snap-inc/privacy/lawenforcement.pdf

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