Senators to Apple: Ditch the DUI Checkpoint Apps

| News

Four U.S. Senators are calling Apple to task over the availability of apps for the iPhone that can be used to alert users to the locations of drunk driving checkpoints. The Senators are asking Apple to remove titles that offer the feature from the App Store, calling the apps “harmful to public safety.”

Don't drink and drive!U.S. Senators aren’t hip on DUI checkpoint apps

In a letter to Scott Forstall, Apple’s senior vice president of iPhone Software, Senators Harry Reid (D-NV), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Tom Udall (D-NM) stated:

We write today with grave concern regarding the ease with which downloadable applications for the iPhone, iPad, and other Apple products allow customers to identify where local police officers have set up DUI checkpoints. 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 Senators didn’t name any apps specifically in their letter, but they were referring to apps such as Fuzz Alert Pro and Checkpointer that can alert drivers to DUI (driving under the influence) checkpoints radar speed zones, and red light cameras in real time.

The Senators go on to say “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?’” 

The letter calls into question exactly which apps should make it through Apple’s App Store review process — a question Apple has been taking heat over recently for allowing the Exodus International app on the store. In that case, concerns have been raised over the app’s anti-gay message and call for homosexuals to be “cured.”

The debate over whether or not DUI checkpoint apps should be available in the App Store will likely be just as heated as arguments over anti-gay apps. While officials will claim that the apps let users evade the law, supporters will claim they have a right to know where the checkpoints are, and that the checkpoints are a violation of their Constitutional rights.

Ultimately, however, it remains up to Apple to decide which apps stay and which go. So far the company has not publicly responded to the request from the Senators.

[Thanks to CNET for the heads up.]

[Image courtesy iStockphoto]

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Comments

Tiger

So, what we need now is a hippocratic oath for the App Store?

First do no harm.

tongue laugh

Lee Dronick

The Senators go on to say ?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???

How about avoiding the traffic snarl at a DUI checkpoint. Just because I want to avoid the checkpoint doesn’t mean that I am driving under the influence or engaged in an illegal activity.

Matt

Dear Senators,

Balance the budget.

Thanks,

Matt

P

How about the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution? Is that reason enough?

(I am absolutely sick to death of the “if you haven’t done anything wrong you have nothing to worry about” mentality. Wonder why “the Man” gets a bad rap?)

RE: The Senators go on to say ?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???

Rob

Dear Senators,

Balance the budget.

Thanks,

Matt

I second that.
Thanks,
Rob

John

“Do as I say, not as I do,” was probably first uttered by a member of Congress. The same people who restrict our freedoms and put us in danger of arrest for drinking alcohol are pretty much immune from the laws that they pass:

The following excerpt was researched and written by the staff
of Capitol Hill Blue

In the 1998 Congressional session, 84 Representatives and Senators were stopped for drunken driving and released after they claimed Congressional immunity. It should be noted, however, that there is a big difference between being stopped for “suspicion” of DUI and actually being charged with the offense. More than one police officer, however, told Capitol Hill Blue they are not allowed to charge members of Congress.

“I’ve stopped Senators who were so drunk they couldn’t remember their own name,” says one Fairfax County police officer. “And I was ordered to let them drive home.”

During late-night Congressional sessions, Representatives and Senators often spend time between votes in the private Republican and Democratic clubs or any of a dozen other Capitol Hill watering holes. One Capitol Hill police officer says he has had to jump out of the way more than once to avoid being run down by a drunken member of Congress roaring out of a House office garage.

Peter

The thing is, DUI checkpoint information is published in the newspaper.  I don’t see the difference between it being published in the newspaper or downloaded by a particular App and presented to me while driving.

This is more senatorial grandstanding.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

If I were the developer of one of these apps, I would write to these Senators and thank them for promoting my app, and then send them the maximum allowed political contribution for the upcoming election cycle. And then I’d get my @$$ in gear and make sure I had an Android app so when Apple makes a spectacle of banning apps that interfere with law enforcement, I’ve still got a business.

dan

an argument could be made that anyone able to use such an app may not be impaired.
and i agree that Senators and Congressmen should be subject to the same DUI restrictions as the “rest of us”.

cb50dc

...DUI checkpoint information is published in the newspaper.  I don?t see the difference between it being published in the newspaper or downloaded by a particular App and presented to me while driving.

Peter, that’s exactly the point I wondered about as I read the story. But I can see a difference:

I suspect that few people, before going out to party, will think, “Well, I’d better pull up today’s ‘Local’ section and find out where NOT to go once I’m snockered. If I can remember it then.”

If you’re out and you realize your sobriety is iffy, you’re not likely to go track down the Gazette. But with your trusty iPhone, you do have instant access to it all ? if you’re still able to operate it. And if not, well, there’s your sign.

All that aside, I as an always-sober driver will second Sir Harry’s desire to keep far away from traffic tie-ups.

Lee Dronick

I just heard on our NBC affiliate TV news that the apps were pulled. Currently national news is on, I will try and get the story at on the 5:30 PM edition of local news.

Lee Dronick

Update: RIM/Blackberry pulled their DUI apps, Apple and Android did not, at least not yet.

The news has a lawyer on who says that legally all DUI checkpoints must be made public and that these apps are part of that notification.

Dave Evers

I wish this apps was available back in the day. I was arrested for DUI way back in 2006 in Jersey. Good thing my friend knows a good NJ DUI Attorney. I think its good to ditch the DUI checkpoint apps, this could save a lot of lives.

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