Do DUI Checkpoint Apps Help or Hurt Police Efforts?

Lora Bentley

Four U.S. senators are on a mission to rid smartphones of applications designed to map out the locations of DUI/DWI checkpoints in the user's area. reports Sens. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) wrote to Apple, Google and Research In Motion this week to urge the companies to stop selling such smartphone applications-Checkpointer and Fuzz Alert Pro, for instance-because they essentially encourage drunk driving. They said, in part:

Police officers from across the country have voiced concern about these products, with one police captain saying, 'If people are going to use those, what other purpose are they going to use them for except to drink and drive?' With a person dying every 50 minutes in a drunk-driving crash, this technology should not be promoted to your customers--in fact, it shouldn't even be available.

So far, Research In Motion is the only company to pull the applications from its BlackBerry App World. The announcement of RIM's decision came in a joint statement from the senators, according to


At the same time, those who made the apps in question are defending themselves. PhantomALERT founder and CEO Joe Scott told Computerworld the app can actually discourage people from drinking and driving because when people report DUI checkpoints, it often looks as if there are more checkpoints than are really there. "We're like a force multiplier for them," he said.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Mar 24, 2011 11:16 AM Jeff Yablon Jeff Yablon  says:

Yeah, yeah . . . and radar detectors encourage speeding. How many jurisdictions have outlawed them? Connecticut, VA, DC?

At least the senators are doing this through lobbying instead of legislation.

Jeff Yablon

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