Lawyer: ‘STAYUMBL’ driver a victim of ‘social media frenzy’
A Durham woman who has gained notoriety online for erratic driving and the license plate “STAYUMBL” missed a court appearance Friday morning, with her attorney appearing on her behalf.
Diana Taije Mems remains in the Wake County jail after surrendering to authorities Thursday afternoon on a failure to appear charge that was filed after she didn’t show up for a Monday hearing on speeding and reckless driving charges.
Mems’ bond is set at $10,000, and attorney John Fitzpatrick Jr. said his goal is to get her out of jail by the end of Friday.
Once she posts bond, Mems will be required to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet. She also was forced to surrender her driver’s license.
Mems, 50, has become infamous on social media, where dozens of posts point out the “STAYUMBL” plate and criticize her driving. Some people accuse her of trying to force other drivers to rear-end her vehicle.
Last month, a school bus driver in Durham posted a video that showed the “STAYUMBL” car pulling in front of the bus and stopping suddenly on a two-lane road to block the bus. A woman got out of the car with a cellphone to record the incident as she pointed at the back of her car.
Mems was cited with reckless driving, improper passing and impeding traffic in that incident and was supposed to be in traffic court in Durham on those charges Friday.
After getting Mems’ case continued to June 25, Fitzpatrick blasted the people posting about her, saying they don’t have all of the facts in her case.
“There are a lot of people who have jumped on the bandwagon of this social media frenzy, and there’s notoriety following her,” he said. “People out of nowhere have been riding behind her, looking for her vehicle. I believe some people are doing it so they can get some notoriety themselves.”
Mems is being targeted because of the publicity surrounding her, Fitzpatrick said.
“When people see the tags ‘STAYUMBL,’ it’s easy for anyone to say, ‘I saw that vehicle do this to me,’” he said. “There’s nothing she’s done that’s criminal, we contend.”
A man who spoke with WRAL News on Friday disagrees, saying he has seen Mems’ driving firsthand.
The man, who didn’t want to be identified said he wound up behind Mems’ Ford Focus last September on T.W. Alexander Drive in Durham after a dump truck passed her.
“She stopped in the middle of the turn lane to turn right and turned her hazards on,” he said. “As I was going [past], she turned off her hazard lights, moved in front of me and slammed on her brakes.”
The man grazed her bumper, causing minor damage to his car but none to hers. He was ticketed; she was not.
“Her license should be taken, and she should never be able to drive,” the man said. “I mean, she’s a danger to people.”
A Durham Police Department investigator who has been reviewing Mems’ driving record in recent months determined she’s been involved in 31 crashes since 2000. He said he found no evidence that any of the crashes was staged to collect insurance money, but the Wake County District Attorney’s Office and the state Department of Insurance are reviewing Mems’ history.
“Thirty-one accidents have been noted, but they haven’t told you that none of them were her fault,” Fitzpatrick said. “And you’re talking about the course of over 20-something years.”
Wake County Assistant District Attorney Matt Lively said in court Thursday that authorities have determined that Mems has had nine aliases, six driver’s licenses and three Social Security cards over time.
Mems has a right to record video when she thinks another driver is breaking the law, he said, and the videos she has taken will eventually come out in court as part of the case.
“If you’re actually driving a vehicle and you’re doing wrong, then why would you get out and record someone else’s behavior? It’s counterintuitive to do that,” Fitzpatrick said. “So that’s why I tell everybody [to] wait until those facts play out in court so you can see what really happened.”
WRAL News learned that Mems changed her license plate after being cited in the Durham school bus case.