DUI Checkpoint Apps May Vanish After Senator Demands Review

Fuzz Alert iOS

iOS applications that alert drivers to DUI checkpoints and speed traps could soon be pulled from the App Store following a review by Apple that will determine whether or not these applications are illegal.

Guy Tribble, Apple’s Vice President of Software Technology, told senators during a U.S. Senate subcommittee yesterday that the company is currently looking into the legality of these applications, and will pull them if they are breaking the law.

Senator Charles Schumer voiced his concerns about applications like Fuzz Alert – the sole purpose of which is to notify drivers when they are approaching a checkpoint and even awards them points for reporting speed traps.

Schumer hit out and both Apple and Google and demanded to know why these apps haven’t been pulled already:

We brought these to the attention of RIM, they pulled the app down. I’m disappointed that Apple and Google did not. Why not?

Tribble explained that the applications in question are merely “publishing data that’s actually first published by the police department.” Schumer dismissed Apple’s argument and claimed to know of no Police department “that would publish this [information] in realtime.”

Apple and Google both declared that they are already in the process of looking into applications of this nature to try establish whether or not they encourage people to break the law. Schumer responded with:

I hope that you narrowly look at this app. You agree that it is a terrible thing, and it probably causes death.

It’s clear senators aren’t happy with Apple and Google offering these applications to their users – this is the second time they have called on Apple to pull them from the App Store. I’m sure it’s now only a matter of time before they vanish from the App Store and the Android Market.

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    Google and apple didn’t pull the app down because they are trying to make money

  • GregsTechBlog

    Because there’s nothing wrong with them.
    Many cops are pricks (admittedly not all, many are in fact very nice), this gives us a way to defend ourselves. I normally have nothing against cops, but this morning put me over the edge. The roads are already a bit congested. And then they come to a near standstill… why? Cops pulled people over during their morning commute, close to 9am when people were rushing to get in on time. I saw 3 cops on the same highway, all within a mile of each other.

    So basically they decided it’s better to put someone’s career at risk, and hold up traffic for everyone else than to miss a few for their damn quotas. It would be one thing if speeding actually caused accidents, but it doesn’t. In fact, going under the limit is far more dangerous.

    So, thanks officers for making me later and putting me at risk for being rear ended. I just downloaded Fuzz Alert. Maybe next time they’re deciding to ruin a few peoples days, I’ll take the backroads to get in to work.

  • B066Y

    I disagree with speed traps (speeding doesn’t kill, reckless driving does) they are only there to make money for the city/county/state and since you can make more money from a speeding ticket then a reckless driving ticket or a jay walking ticket the speeding ticket is what is pushed. I do however, feel that posting information about checkpoints should be a crime. People who drive under the influence should be thrown in jail, have their car impounded and have their driver licenses taken away on the first offence, period.

  • B066Y

    Although I don’t agree with speeding tickets, I do try to obey the speed limit…if you leave a bit earlier for work you wouldn’t have this problem. The bottom line is speeding is against the law so plan accordingly.

  • Ilene Jones

    So wait, they’re taking publicly available information, and using that information to alert people to where they need to slow down. Hmm. Is it causing those people to slow down in the areas where the police are as a side effect? I bet it is. Is it causing people to slam on their brakes (because most people do) when they see the cop? Probably not, because they were forewarned and already doing the speed limit. The DUI checkpoints – if someone is drunk, and actually thinks to open one of these apps to check to see where the check points are, that person has a bigger problem than getting caught for DUI. I would like to think that most people who get behind the wheel after drinking won’t think twice about if they’ve had too much to drive, and won’t think they even need to open the app to check for where the checkpoints are, because they think they’re fine.

    So in short, it sounds like these apps are getting people to slow down ahead of time – possibly getting them to leave early enough to not have to speed (much like watching the traffic on the news before leaving for work, or listening to the radio traffic report while out – that also tells you where the police are operating)… Just because the information is out there, doesn’t mean people are going to listen to it.

    Next they’ll want to ban announcing these things on twitter.

  • Ilene Jones

    That’s actually what they do here in Florida… first offense DUI, you just described the consequences, and I’m glad for them.

  • Rick Povich

    The cops and schmucky chumer can take their Fourth Amendment-violating fishing expeditions and pound sand.

  • GregsTechBlog

    Oh yes, I heavily disagree with speeding laws here in the US. The limits are far too low and the tickets are far too expensive. I myself have had 3 tickets, and y radar detector has saved me from 2, and got the third one reduced as I was able to slow down in time.

    Normally, I leave plenty of time, and I was still 15 minutes early this morning. Still, I like to be a half hour early. I slept in, thus taking part in the morning rush.

  • imajoebob

    I feel posting information about what is or is not dangerous behavior without any evidence to support it a hazard to society, and people who do it should have their computer impounded and have their broadband taken away on the first offense, period.

    But you wouldn’t support that, would you? And I doubt you recognize the parallel.

  • imajoebob

    Google and Apple haven’t taken thses down because their legal departments have already reviewed them, and found that they are perfectly legal, and unlike Schumer, have actually done the research that shows police departments ROUTINELY post this info across the country. A number will publish it in the newspaper on a regular basis.

  • B066Y

    You obviously don’t live in a college town or know some of the drunks I’ve had the displeasure of coming into contact with. Their buddies will call them and tell them what route to take home to avoid checkpoints and they will laugh about it the next day (but by then it’s just hearsay and humor).

  • B066Y

    No I don’t recognize the parallel you are trying to make. Are you referring to my comment about speeding doesn’t kill? Because there are other countries with much high speed limits then the USA that proves speeding isn’t the problem. If you are referring to my comment about drunk drivers then, I’m sorry you are wrong.

  • B066Y

    That’s fine, if the police department does post the info first.

  • OMFGitsJUSTIN

    @28f47414d873b49d412e90278f7225bb:disqus Would you please cut it out. We get it, YOU don’t like these apps. Just because YOU don’t doesn’t mean ALL OF AMERICA must follow. My god this is what I can’t stand about politics and those who follow them, it’s your way or the wrong way.

    I support the apps. If police board cast the info then the apps can too. Just like the weather, sports score, phone numbers and addresses. PUBLIC. INFOR. MATION.

  • B066Y

    How does the Fourth Amendment aply to driving drunk or speeding, these are both public actions?

  • B066Y

    Sorry, I thought the comments section was for comments and discussion…I enjoy discussing politics and religion mainly because everyone has an opinion. I am voicing mine, if someone can give me a good reason to why I am wrong then so be it if not I will continue posting. I have already conceded above that if the police department does post the info first then it is fine however not all police departments post info about checkpoints.

  • vaporland .

    This is nothing but stupid politician tricks. Are they also going to outlaw GPS devices that show traffic flow and police checkpoints as well (Tom Tom, Garmin, etc)?

    If you’re stupid enough to drive drunk, an app isn’t going to save your ass.

  • Romeyn Prescott

    These apps don’t encourage people to break the law. They encourage people to OBEY the law! I saw a story once about a sting operation in Florida in which the local police were cracking down on convenience stores selling cigarettes to minors. One of the early proprietors that was visited started calling all his friends to let them know what was going on. The Police went to the D.A. to get a warrant for the guy, alleging obstruction of justice. The D.A. said something like, “Let me get this straight: you want to arrest this man for calling people and encouraging them to OBEY THE LAW??” Yeah…that went nowhere. Even if it’s an Urban Legend, the same principle applies here.

  • swengoodwood

    Life must have been so much better 100 years ago. You did what you wanted to do and didn’t have some government do-Gooder up your ass all the time. America should have learned their lesson by now. Look what running around trying to be the Police of the world has brought you. Keep your nose out of other peoples business, and let people live free. It’s too late for the USA. You can never turn back the Orwellian systems that have been entrenched in your day to day lives. You have now just been degregated to being mindless sheep that have to follow the heard.

    HaHaHa. Good thing there are still a few places of refuge on this earth where Men can be Men and just live how they want to. Only problem is that most Americans are so short sighted that they can’t see past their own back yards.

  • Illustrating Absurdity.

    How is banning an app like this different than arresting someone who calls their friend and gives them the street names of a traffic stop or speed trap?

    That’s right, it’s no different.

    I guess we’ll be arrested for speaking out loud something we see in a public place with open eyes…. Makes me want to move to China, at least then I would know I don’t have any rights and wouldn’t pretend.

  • B066Y

    I would argue that it depends on what you are calling your friend to encourage them to do. If they are out drinking and you call to encourage them to take a cab home or offer to came back and pick them up then you’re ok, but if you are calling and telling them to drive home the back way cause they don’t need a DUI then you are wrong. The same goes for speeding if you are encouraging them to follow all posted speed limits your good, if you simply telling them to slow down around some street cause the cops are hanging out there then you are wrong.

  • Anonymous

    1) DUI checkpoint information is already publicly available, usually published in the local paper:
    http://www.duipenaltiesfaq.com

    2) Free speech should never be a crime regardless of the method of dissemination.

    And not that it makes a difference, but..

    3) Is the app running? Is the sound on? Is your location data accurate? Has the alert radius been set high enough to give you a worthwhile warning? Has the alert expired? Has anyone bothered reporting? If the answer to ANY of those questions is no, you’ll never get a warning in time, if at all.

    4) Anyone sober enough to successfully use the app to avoid a checkpoint is probably sober enough to drive in the first place. These apps are no substitute for sound judgment and reasoning.

    But even if the apps functioned perfectly with 0 false negatives or false positives, I would still support their existence on principle. In my opinion, DUI checkpoints constitute an illegal search without reasonable suspicion. Yes, I’d be beyond pissed if someone I love was killed by a drunk driver, but no amount of law enforcement is going to prevent people from making bad decisions, and stopping a few bad apples isn’t sufficient justification for violating the rights of thousands of law abiding citizens.

  • Anonymous

    You’re obviously incompatible with the place you’ve chosen to live. Rather than trying to change thousands of strangers who will simply rotate each year, why not just move?

  • Anonymous

    Most of the apps are free.

  • Mm111

    If you are driving drunk or speeding, then it has almost nothing to do with the 4th amendment. The issue with checkpoints is that they stop everyone, without probable cause, and if you appear to avoid one of their checkpoints, they will chase you down.

  • Mm1111

    Speed doesn’t kill. Stopping kills.

  • Mm11111

    This is a silly move. These apps will simply be turned into (and some already were) web apps. Will the Senate next sic DHS on the sites and seize the domains in the names of safety?

  • B066Y

    I disagree with you because I don’t acknowledge an expectation of privacy when in public. How is a police checkpoint any different than a metal detector and guard at the entrance of a state or federal building? The highways are state property.

  • B066Y

    As soon as I graduated from college I did move, but those types of people are all over the country no matter where you go.

  • B066Y

    That is true at any legally acceptable highway speed.

  • B066Y

    In response to your number 4, do you know many alcoholics? They can appear sober and be completely wasted.

    I would also disagree with “no amount of law enforcement is going to prevent people from making bad decisions, and stopping a few bad apples isn’t sufficient justification for violating the rights of thousands of law abiding citizens.” They are using public roads no rights are being violated police checkpoints.

    As far as your number 1, I have already conceded that in another comment. However being a military officer I have a slightly different view of the what qualifies as “free speech” then normal citizens.

  • BitWise

    I guess this doesn’t mean anything then…I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

  • zazou1

    I hate censorship…

  • B066Y

    Actually that is the oath of enlistment, I’m an Officer not an enlisted man. But those oaths mean everything. However, not all speech is protected by the first amendment (i.e. you can’t legally yell fire in a crowded theater if there is no fire) and the definitions very depending on who you ask. In my opinion, if you encourage someone to break the law through speech you are an accessory, it’s not an expression of free speech.

About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a staff writer based in the U.K. He has an interest in all things tech and also covers Android over at CultofAndroid.com. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell.

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