Drunken drivers are often caught weaving down a street in their cars or running stop signs. But the police in a Florida town have found a new way to track down a suspected drunken driver.
The police in Lakeland, Fla., said in a statement that 911 dispatchers started receiving calls Saturday from viewers who were watching a woman broadcasting herself while apparently driving drunk, using the live-streaming app Periscope.
Despite the tip being generated in the virtual world, it took some traditional police sleuthing to find the woman and, ultimately, arrest and charge her.
The woman, identified by the police as Whitney Marie Beall, 23, first invited her viewers to follow her as she went bar-hopping in downtown Lakeland, according to reports.
At first, the police statement said, after she got behind the wheel, two viewers sent her text messages, telling her to pull over before she killed herself or someone else.
One caller who was watching told the police that the woman was driving in the north Lakeland area. As he watched, according to the police statement, she said she was drunk and lost and had a flat tire, but the video feed was sporadic and the caller was unable to tell the police exactly what type of vehicle the woman was driving.
During the live stream, published by WFTV in Orlando, Fla., Ms. Beall repeatedly said that she was drunk and appeared to be asking viewers for directions. She noticed that there were at least 57 people watching and asked, “So where am I right now, people?”
Officers in Lakeland are not provided with access to Periscope through the department, the police statement said. But one officer had a personal account, which officers used to scrutinize the landscape, picking out landmarks to pin down where she was: a street called Carpenters Way.
As officers pulled her over, her 2015 Toyota Corolla, which already had a flat right front tire, rammed into a curb. She failed a roadside sobriety test and was charged with drunken driving, the police statement said.
The Florida news television channel WFLA in the Tampa Bay region said that it tracked down Ms. Beall at her home, but she did not want to comment.
“She hung her head down and said this was a big mistake. And she is learning a lesson from it all,” said the station’s reporter, Holly Bounds.
Ms. Beall’s lawyer, Lee Cohen, said in a statement that he would enter a plea of not guilty on her behalf, the station reported.
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