This past July, Paula Asher of Woodford County, Kentucky crashed her car, which was carrying four teenage passengers while driving drunk. Following the collision, she fled the scene and was later charged with leaving the scene of an accident, driving under the influence of alcohol, and possession of a controlled substance.
But it wasn’t until the Asher failed to take down her Facebook page that she landed a contempt of court charge as well.
After her arrest, Asher took to her Facebook and posted, “My dumb ass got a dui and I hit a car…LOL.” For those of you unfamiliar with abbreviations commonly used in digital media and texts, “LOL” means “laugh out loud.” Parents of the teenage passengers saw this post on Asher’s Facebook page and reported it to the court. When Asher reported to court the judge ordered Asher to, not just delete the post, but completely delete her Facebook account.
Asher, for whatever reason, failed to do so. When the judge discovered Asher’s Facebook page was still active, he charged her with contempt of court and sentenced her to 48 hours in county jail. When Asher was released from brief jail stint in early October, she promptly closed her Facebook account.
Asher has since apologized saying she “didn’t think LOL would put [her] in jail” and she “didn’t mean to hurt anybody.”
Needless to say, Asher’s actions were egregious and certainly nothing to laugh out loud about. However, whether Asher’s intention in posting the comment was to brag or to simply make light of an otherwise unfortunate incident, the judge should not have the right punish her for speaking about her DUI. Without going into the particulars of a free speech legal analysis, suffice it to say that the judge’s order was unconstitutional on several grounds.
The judge’s actions have yet to be challenged. Until then, don’t LOL about your DUI… at least not in the digital media or you might find yourself in jail.