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Apple and Google DUI Smart Phone App Under Attack

On May 11, PC World announced that Senator Charles Schumer was pressuring Apple and Google to eliminate apps from Smart Phones that notify users of DUI checkpoints. These apps utilize the GPS capabilities of the phone and notify users of not only DUI checkpoints but also speed traps and red light cameras. According to Schumer’s testimony, in a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing, these apps, “endanger public safety by allowing drunk drivers to avoid police checkpoints.” The United State’s Supreme Court upheld the right of police officers to conduct DUI checkpoints in Michigan v. Sitz (496 U.S. 444) after the Michigan Supreme Court struck down DUI roadblocks as unconstitutional. In a 6-3 decision, the United States Supreme Court reversed the Michigan court, ruling that DUI roadblocks were constitutionally allowed. The United States Supreme Court allows the DUI stops even though Chief Justice Rehnquist admitted they were violations of citizens’ rights, but he argued that the states’ interest in reducing drunken driving outweighs the Constitutional issues of a DUI roadblock. Guy Tribble, Apple’s Vice President for Software Technology, testified that Smart Phone apps could not “endanger public safety by allowing drunk drivers to avoid police checkpoints” because police departments across the United States already notified the public about the locations of the DUI checkpoints. But is this true? Many state constitutions do not allow DUI Road blocks, but the states that do allow them often follow regulations which have been outlined by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA). These regulations outline a variety of techniques for DUI roadblocks such as how to safely conduct the tests, the need to train officers, how to arrest suspects and test them appropriately and the need to provide adequate warnings to drivers so they can completely avoid the roadblocks. In addition to the NHTSA regulations, the California Supreme Court also outlined ways to minimize the intrusions mentioned by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Ingersoll v. Palmer case. According to this case, "Advance publicity is important to the maintenance of a constitutionally permissible sobriety checkpoint. Publicity both reduces the intrusiveness of the stop and increases the deterrent effect of the roadblock…such publicity would warn those using the highways that they might expect to find roadblocks designed to check for sobriety; the warning may well decrease the chance of apprehending ‘ordinary’ criminals, but should certainly have a considerable deterring effect by either dissuading people from taking ‘one more for the road,’ persuading them to drink at home, or inducing them to take taxicabs.” Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the court’s decision, publically notifying drivers of DUI roadblocks has been established as standard procedures by state police departments. If this has been condoned and encouraged by the NHTSA and the California Supreme Court, I do not think Apple and Google need to worry about their Smart Phone app.

Hiring a DUI Lawyer

If you have been arrested for DUI, contact a DUI lawyer. Even first time DUI offenders can face severe DUI penalties including: high fines, probation, jail time, alcohol education courses, and installation of an ignition interlock device. DUI attorneys understand DUI laws and can provide a good DUI defense.