As the saying goes, knowledge is power; and apparently owners of smart phones are feeling more powerful every day. In the news of late are stories about the sales of software applications that allow users of iPhones, BlackBerries and Droids, among others, to keep track of drunken driving checkpoints, also known as sobriety roadblocks. Numerous government officials and police departments have been pressing Apple and Google to stop offering the apps, but this may be in itself be accelerating sales of the DWI alert software packages.
As New Jersey drunken driving defense lawyers, I and my team of experienced DWI attorneys are quick to advise people not to drink and drive. However, we understand that many motorists who are stopped by state and municipal police patrols don’t necessarily realize that they may be legally drunk, something which could end up costing them a great deal.
When a driver is pulled over at a drunk driving checkpoint, if a police officer detects signs of alcohol use he may request the driver to perform a variety of field sobriety tests. Once satisfied that the motorist is likely impaired by alcohol, the officer may also ask the driver to submit to abreathalyzer test. If his or her blood-alcohol content (BAC) measurement is 0.08 or above, the individual could be arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated. This is the beginning of a costly process that may lead to loss of the person’s job, alienation from family and friends, and possibly jail time under certain circumstances.
One way in which motorists are trying to avoid running into a sobriety roadblock is through the use of those DWI and DUI apps. According to news reports, these downloadable applications actually enable smart phone owners to pinpoint the locations of drunk driving checkpoints set from time to time up by police departments all across the Garden State.
Once several U.S. congressmen started pressing for the removal of these apps from iPhone and Google app stores, public interest was apparently piqued. According to reports, sales of some DWI checkpoint applications have doubled following these senators’ efforts to restrict the software.
Of course, the manufacturers of these applications are quick to state that their products are not meant to help people drive drunk. According to one article, the CEO of Fuzz Alert said that his company’s software is like an electronic version of a “dangerous curve ahead” or other traffic safety road sign. Stating that their device is nothing more than a warning device, the CEO suggested that he might even remove the DWI checkpoint locating capability just to prove the app does not promote drinking and driving.
Back in May, a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, senators pressed both Google and Apple executives again to do something about the sales of what some say are products that enable drunken driving. Countering these kinds of statements, many in the industry are quick to add that much of what is provided via these apps is information already available and published by local police departments.
Apparently Research in Motion has backed down and curtailed sales of DWI apps for the time being. It may not be long before we see what Google and Apple decide to do on this issue; the congressmen received a commitment from executives at both companies that they would report back to the Senate on whether or not those apps violate each company’s policies.
Scrutiny boosts sales of DUI checkpoint app, USAToday.com, May 17, 2011