DUI Checkpoint Apps Under Scrutiny

Earlier this year, four U.S. Senators began a campaign to force smartphone service providers and the makers of apps that alert drivers to the location of DUI checkpoints from selling these apps to customers.

Sens. Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Tom Udall and Frank Lautenberg consider these apps a hazard to public safety because they allow users to avoid drunk driving checkpoints. In March, the four sent a letter to Google, Research in Motion and Apple asking the companies to remove these apps from their smartphone stores.

The senators specifically questioned whether the apps violate the provider's terms of service, reasoning that the apps help users commit unlawful acts. But the makers of the apps dispute the senator's claims that these apps help drivers avoid checkpoints. According to PC World, these apps also alert drivers to locations of red light cameras and speed traps in addition to DUI checkpoints from a user-generated database.

In some cases, as reported in the USA Today, the information used to list checkpoint locations is published by local police departments. At a recent hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, Sen. Schumer challenged that assertion, saying that police departments do not offer real-time updates on the location of sobriety checkpoints.

But all the attention seems to have had the opposite effect than the Senators had hoped. According to the USA Today, sales of one of the controversial apps, Fuzz Alert, have more than doubled since the scrutiny of the devices began.

So far only Research in Motion has complied with the request to remove these apps from its store. Apple and Google are still determining whether the apps violate the terms of service.

Getting Help

Whether checkpoint apps are ultimately banned won't stop the police or prosecutors from aggressively pursuing DUI offenders. If you are facing DUI or other traffic charges, contact an experienced attorney to discuss your case.