Apple Asked to Scrap Apps That Help Users Evade DUI Checkpoints

Categories: Tech
Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for dui.jpg
What does your app tell you?
Earlier today, SF Weekly told readers about the controversial gay-cure app that's put Apple at the center of an uncomfortable high-tech debate about religion and gays.

Now, U.S. lawmakers are challenging the company to scrap another iPhone app -- one that alerts users to nearby DUI checkpoints.

U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), and Tom Udall  (D-N.M.), fired off a letter today to Scott Forstall, Apple's senior vice president of iPhone software, asking the company to remove all apps that alert users of DUI checkpoints which are staged to curb drunk driving, CNET.com reports.

They believe this real-time warning gives drunk drivers a chance to dodge the cops.


Screen shot 2011-03-22 at 4.44.11 PM.png
"With more than 10,000 Americans dying in drunk-driving crashes every year, providing access to iPhone and iPad applications that alert users to DUI checkpoints is harmful to public safety," the lawmakers wrote. "We know that your company shares our desire to end the scourge of drunk driving and we therefore would ask you to remove these applications from your store."

We did a quick search and found that there are, indeed, plenty of apps out there that promise to warn us of upcoming sobriety checkspoints in our area.

Buzzed, distributed by Minot LCC, for instance, said it would provide its users with "detailed information regarding if, when, and where" a DUI checkpoint might occur.

To be fair, the application also seeks to help buzzed drivers by offering its "Call a Cab" service.

Other apps we viewed include: Ace Baron's Checkpointer, Keller Fishback & Johnson's, Tipsy, and Fuzz Alert's Fuzz Alert Pro.

Apple revised its app review guidelines in September 2010, stating it would not accept apps from developers that "encourage excessive consumption of alcohol or illegal substances, or encourage minors to consume alcohol or smoke cigarettes."

Apple is already taking heat from gay advocacy groups that started an online petition yesterday, asking the Cupertino-based company to remove an app created by a religious group, Exodus International. The app was designed to help users resist their unwanted homosexual desires. 

Sounds like there's is a good opportunity for another new app -- one that could help Apple steer clear of controversy.

Follow us on Twitter at @SFWeekly and @TheSnitchSF

My Voice Nation Help
9 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
orionp3
orionp3

I live in a state (Oregon) where DUI checkpoints have been ruled unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court.Thank goodness somebody had some common sense.

Jeeplover
Jeeplover

Dates and location for DUI checkpoints, believe it or not, are reported in local papers BEFORE they even go up. Hard to believe these senators are making an issue of this.

ElGuano
ElGuano

Aren't police typically required to pre-publish the location and times of such checkpoints, as in the newspaper? There are usually extremely narrow legal allowances for these kinds of warrantless, suspicionless stops.

I can't see how they get off yanking an app that merely aggregates public information disseminated by the police in the first place.

Nick
Nick

In California, Police are not required to pre-publish or disclose the location of the checkpoints at any given time. The way they perform the stops are to be "at random" where they select a given amount of cars at a time, and after they are done checking those cars they must let at least another given amount pass by without checking them.

One other thing to note is that they are checking for valid drivers licenses to make sure people are driving legally. And if they happen to come across reasonable suspicion that someone has been drinking or is currently under the influence, then they will remove the given car from the lineup and further investigate.

On a slightly different note, all checkpoints (in California) must have at least one alternate route. So if you don't want to wait in line, simply pull the next legal u-turn and take the side streets.

ElGuano
ElGuano

Thanks for the info. My understanding under Ingersoll v. Rand is that the checkpoint must be pre-published, but they do not need to disclose the exact location (street or intersection). Also, in line with alternate routes, motorists are allowed to avoid the checkpoints if they can legally turn or u-turn out of the line, and they cannot be detained merely for attempting to avoid a checkpoint. Rather than "random," perhaps the best term for who they stop is "mathematical" or "formulaic:" it must be something like every other car, or every 5th car, not just whoever they want. Also importantly, checkpoints must be highly visible, with indicators such as flashing lights, uniformed officers, etc.

In all, I see that these apps do serve a useful purpose in potentially pinpointing exact locations of sobriety checkpoints. Due to the requirement for pre-publication, high visibility, legality for avoidance, I cannot see how the police can seek to curtail knowledge of something as public as a sobriety checkpoint. If I see one or am in line for one, I can pull over, leave, phone my friends, update my facebook profile to tell people where it is...or update an app for others to check. A huge part of regulating sobriety checkpoints is to give public due notice and an opportunity to avoid.

Spam
Spam

Ingersoll Rand is a tool company. Ingersoll v Palmer is the DUI case.

Skatull
Skatull

Just rebrand the app as traffic congestion avoidance, give the user the ability to select the types of traffic to avoid; sig alert, construction zone, police activity, include DUI checkpoints as police activity,

fetch
fetch

Obviously, these Senators don't know anything. In California, DUI checkpoints need to be disclosed publicly and publicized. Take a look here: http://bit.ly/dG4ka2 and here: http://bit.ly/h4dE2p and here: http://bit.ly/glzUZ7. If you really want to avoid DUI checkpoints, you can certainly find out all about them beforehand if you read the paper. Oh, and if you have a CB, you can probably find out too. Perhaps CBs and newspapers should be banned as well...

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.
Loading...