Apple reviewing DUI checkpoint apps upon US Senate request

During yesterday's Senate subcommittee hearing on location tracking, Apple was asked why they haven't pulled a number of DUI checkpoint apps like Fuzz Alert which notify users of nearby law-enforcement checkpoints.

Four U.S. Senators, including Sen. Charles Schumer, sent letters to Apple, Google and Research in Motion in March requesting that the companies remove apps notifying users of police sobriety checkpoints their respective application stores. Schumer raised the issue again at Tuesday's Senate subcommittee hearing on privacy.

VP of Software Technology Guy Tribble told senators that Apple is currently looking into the legality of these apps and would remove them from the App Store if they were deemed illegal. He also commented that these apps are only “publishing data that’s actually first published by the police department", to which Senator Charles Schumer responded claiming he was unaware of any police departments who published this information in realtime.

Apparently these DUI checkpoint apps have continued to anger senators after watching RIM pull similar apps from their App World while Apple and Google make sure it's actually warranted before pulling the trigger.

What's your take? Do you think DUI checkpoint apps should be allowed to remain in the App Store or should Apple get rid of them? Sound off in the comments below!


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Andrew Wray

Andrew Wray is a Salt Lake City, Utah based writer who focuses on news, how-tos, and jailbreak. Andrew also enjoys running, spending time with his daughter, and jamming out on his guitar. He works in a management position for Unisys Technical Services, a subsidiary of Unisys Corporation.

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Apple reviewing DUI checkpoint apps upon US Senate request


Keep them! My mom was caught going 25 in a 20 by a hidden cop car. She got a ticket but fought it and won. If she had this app, she could of avoided the jerk.
This isn't a matter of "safety" that worries the government, it's a matter of the government losing money on this! Speeding tickets are a lot of money, they don't want you avoiding them.
I mean come on, what is the difference between me downloading an app and tweeting/facebooking/calling people I know and letting them know. I have seen drivers all the times flash their lights at oncoming cars warning others of a hidden cop car up a head.
This is just a clear and obvious move to try and rip more money out of our pockets.

This is about DUI checkpoints, not "hidden cops". In fact, DUI checkpoints are very much not hidden and intended to keep drunks off the road. If the drunks know ahead of time where the checkpoints are, then they'll take a different route home. So yes, this is very much about safety.

These apps are far more intended to show more than just DUI checkpoints. If you've ever used one you'd notice people place cops on the maps in real time. People often show others where speed traps are on it. Now, I don't agree with going fast and slowing down before an officer can see you. I try to only drive a few MPH over the limit and set it on cruise. However, this application really poses no legal issues. It's a public "record" (if you may) on live traffic stop updates. Just informing the consumer. Just like our giant electronic highway billboards in NY tell us to Click it or ticket. Notifying police ahead.

But the part that the government is concerned about is DUI checkpoints. As for the other part, if knowing that cops are around will keep someone from speeding, then the cops probably actually like it. Many times cops will stop in a place solely because they know it stop speeding in that spot thus making it a safer. The presence of a cop prevents a lot of speeding. That is the ultimate goal. But again, that's not what the issues is with these apps. It's the DUI checkpoint feature.

If the issue is with DUI checkpoints then the government should not post them publicly?
Also drunks are not in a logical frame of mind and are not as likely to pick up their phone to find and avoid a DUI checkpoint. If they were logical enough to do so, they could also be logical enough to check a website on their phone that has the information publicly.
It's only a matter of time before information becomes well known and thanks you bloggers, the cat's already out of the bag. Trying to make the app go away is stupid after the fact. The governments have to evolve to figure another way out of this.

DUI checkpoints are supposed to be reported for public knowledge. Whether they're shown through an app or through a web portal makes little difference.

The police send out press releases about their enforcement. They will say they will be in an area for a certain about of time. I don't think an app showing the checkpoints is any different. Yes it pinpoints their location. I rather have that information so I can afford it so I can get to my destination quicker.
A person will drive no matter what. I have seen people get charged with more than once. One guy in January was arrested twice in the same night for DUI.

So you are saying that we should ban apps that expose DUI checkpoints so drunks won't open the app and avoid the check? Using your logic, we should ban all twitter apps due to their, "Tweets around me" feature incase that drunk reads tweets about the check or better yet, let's get rid of cellphones. We wouldn't want the drunk getting a call/text about the check either.
Removing the apps= 155% pointless.

Speeding tickets do not generate a lot of money for the "government". Trust me on that, and in my county we have to advertise our check points in the paper.

In Maine on the turnpike (toll highway) speeding tickets generate enough revenue that it more then covers costs, and does bring a "profit". factor in the tolls and the system MORE then pays for itself. Around holiday weekends (like Thanksgiving 2010) over 80,000 tickets for speeding were issued.

How many of those were overturned and how many of those were never paid? More importantly: seriously?! Maine?! Are you kidding me?! We barely have that many fking drivers in this state! Do you have any idea how many of your potholes will be filled with those funds? Perhaps you think the snow plows drive themselves?! Maybe all your bridges across all your fking waterways will maintain themselves across your corrosive, water-ridden state?! Come to New Mexico, enjoy our 105 degree weather, when it's cool.

Oh and "YOUR" state of New Mexico has 1,236,488 licensed drivers, far for then the 80K holiday tickets administered by the State Police. The Maine State Police released the number they issues, they did not release the number of contested tickets. Unpaid tickets get you a suspended license, and and extra $40 added to your fine, plus you have to pay an extra $50 to the BMV to get your privilege to drive reinstated, and only after you prove you paid your fine. I will keep my cool ocean breeze any day... and I think your 105 degree heat has cooked your noodle!

If you don't think tickets dont generate revenue please consult your publicly documented records. FYI there have been multiple studies done showing speed limits & tickets promote accidents. Their intentions are pure but human psychology negates it. I know this is now off topic but shouldn't cops be patrolling for real crime? The number of traffic VS crime cops is disproportionate. When a woman is getting raped every 8 seconds or someone is getting murdered nearly almost as often, which crime is more important to stop? The guy/girl going 15 over on a highway or the a-hole shooting someone because there just aren't enough cops patrolling crime areas because they're sitting parked in the shade playing on their phones waiting for a crime to come to them?

As a victim of a DUI, I say take them down. As far as those concerned about the "hidden cops" and speeding tickets, it's really easy to avoid...Don't Break The Law. I can't believe so many are upset when they get a speeding ticket when they are actually speeding, c'mon, if you can't deal with the consequences, then just obey the law, it's that simple.

"As far as those concerned about the “hidden cops” and speeding tickets, it’s really easy to avoid…Don’t Break The Law"
That's like saying "Ban abortion. Really easy to avoid. Don't ever have sex" or "Ban hospitals. Really easy to avoid. Wrap yourself up in bubble wrap and wear a gas mask."
You can't solve an issue just by banning it. If you want to stop drunks from avoiding a check point, don't ban these apps, ban bartenders that let them get that drunk.

Lets see... your Mom was driving in excess of the posted speed limit... and got a ticket from a cop, and he is a jerk? So your Mom was breaking the law, and got caught by cop doing his job, so he is a jerk? Your mom fights a ticket she is clearly guilty of wasting our tax dollars, and he is a jerk?
These apps should go... and imo the moment some drunk driver kills someone, and was found to be using this app, the company should be charged for abetting a crime.
This should apply to all apps reporting any check including speeding ones... not only DUI checkpoints...

OK maybe i worded that poorly, but you know what i mean... there should be some kind of punishment...
Maybe the victims family can go after the company...

The company is reposting publicly available knowledge, knowledge that all areas I know of that run DUI checkpoints are required to post to the public in advance.

I did a quick check on google to find out why DUI checkpoints are announced:
Basically DUI checkpoints fun afoul of a little thing called the fourth amendment. DUI checkpoints are strictly regulated so as not to violate the fourth amendment. Senators are asking for the apps to be removed because lesser politicians think "OMG checkpoints save a bazillion lives we must obscure their existance as much as possible." However the courts have determined they must publish information ahead of time and their behavior is limited at each checkpoint. Basically you may see these checkpoints as a good thing, but they are only a good thing because they are limited and regulated. If they weren't it would be a simple thing to simply try to make a DUI checkpoint a place where each and every person is pulled over, pulled out of their car, searched and given a sobriety test regardless of their driving habits or behavior. Such a checkpoint is a violation of 4th amendment rights in the US.
So everyone making an emotional appeal that these apps are wrong, in the US it is your legal right to know about these checkpoints and it is your legal right to avoid them. Checkpoints are not meant to catch drunk drivers but to educate the public about drunk driving and just get people to slow down and think about what they are doing.

This is to avoid profiling. They must have a system in place as to which cars they will stop, every car, every 4th car, every green car etc, and cannot just stop a car a will.

How about a better idea. Don't ban the app. Ban the bartender that let the drunk get that bad?
Not that hard to think about? Is it?

Also, it seems to me how you know nothing about the legal system or how police REALLY operate. I interned with police and have pulled many people over for speeding. Rule of thumb for most cops is 5mph over the speed limit is ok considering it is really hard to maintain a constant speed without pressing down slightly on the pedal. In court judges will usually use the same rule unless they are die hard and use your failed way of thinking "1 mph over is breaking the law"
next time you want to comment on my mother's situation, please use more brains and less emotional fluff in your post. Thank you.

For people unaware of American Law and Constitutional Law, DUI Checkpoints ARE COMPLETELY ILLEGAL. Search can only be conducted by Probable Cause. The Military has also been involved in POSSE COMATATUS, which is illegal for the military to monitor the population, as established by the Founding Fathers. The Federal Government depends on the many ignorant people that would rather watch American Idol rather than stand up for their rights.THIS, is what it is about. FACT

The law is what the arresting officer says the law is as he/she arrests you, regardless of what the law actually states. Once they have you, they can come up with any number of reasons to keep you. Trust me, the government/states have better lawyers than the average person. If you are relying upon your "FACTS," then you'll be seen in prison sooner than later, buddy.

"to which Senator Charles Schumer responded claiming he was unaware of any police departments who published this information in realtime".
I think there are many, many things of which Charles Schumer is unaware. DUI checkpoints are announced on the local news in my area.

What a waste of time and resources in an attempt by these morons to put on theater to make it look like they're doing something, anything. What these Senators are doing is abandoning more important duties and issues that demand immediate attention so they can avoid doing actual work.
This very same information is posted to the public by my local Police Dept., Sheriff's Dept. and local News Paper on their very own web sites and in print 1 full week in advance of any and all DUI checkpoints.

What a waste of time and resources in an attempt by these morons to put on theater to make it look like they’re doing something, anything. What these Senators are doing is abandoning more important duties and issues that demand immediate attention so they can avoid doing actual work.

Let us bit overlook how off topic this is. Apple google are supposed to be explaining and defending the methods in which they store location information, not defending the apps that uses gps.

If you're too wasted to drive, chances are you won't have the mental faculties to use the app correctly anyway, so what kind of damage are these apps really doing?

Too wasted to drive? May I remind you that there are many states where two beers will put you over the legal limit, in some it is one. I could easily picture myself having had 12, then making damn certain that there are no checkpoints on my way home. I will not drive drunk, but if I have enough sense to walk, then I surely have enough sense to check an app!

Great, Tom. Thanks for making my point. Each state interprets "intoxicated" differently, as denoted by the legal limit laws respective to each state. Thus, each State probably has a different interpretation of the impact an app that denotes DUI checkpoints might have on fatalities caused by those driving under the influence. Bottom line: This is not a federal issue.
It's not different than states that ban Radar detectors vs those that don't.

OK, down here in the soon to be soggy state of Louisiana, the location of check points HAVE to be announced in advance to avoid the claim of entrapment. Go figure THAT one out. So, we all know, IN ADVANCE, which streets to avoid on what night if you don't want to get caught. Not only that, but if you see a cop on the side of the road, and flash your light to alert other drivers, you just got a citation for obstruction of justice. How about that? The location of a DUI check point HAS to be announced to the pubic (it is usually on the radio) in advance so the drunks driving home can take another route, but if you let another driver know there is a cop with his radar gun, you broke the law.
Gotta love this country!!

Pardon me, Mister Senator but this is something that should be under state and not Federal jurisdiction. Just like radar detectors are banned on a state by state basis, so should this be decided. And while we are at it Mister Senator, can we get back to what this hearing was SUPPOSED to be about?

Great post. Sadly, these days, most politicians are only people who couldn't make it in the entertainment industry and they want the fame and glory.

ISRS: These days?! Are you kidding? I remind you that a politician that DID make it in the entertainment industry had this to say about peace-loving protesters: "let the bloodbath begin." ~Ronald Reagan.

Bah. I just looked it up, and it is the law that DUI checkpoints be announced ahead of time. HOWEVER, I would still like these apps taken down. Having an app makes it wayyy to easy to find out where not to drive. How many people end up drinking too much and look up where the checkpoints are before hitting the road? Sure, on big nights like holidays people may look it up ahead of time, but just a random night out? I highly doubt it. But if there was an easily accessible little icon on their phone that would instantly give them the info, I guarantee more drunks would know where to avoid. I don't want drunks on the road - I like my life.

So if the app accepts crowdsourced info on where the DUI traps are, why don't the cops just feed it false info? (no law against that!) The cops can announce "problem" locations and this will cause all app users to slow down in those areas -- instant traffic calming!

Unfortunately, DUI checkpoints do almost nothing to curb the number of drunks on the road. And if someone is too intoxicated to drive, then chances are they won't have the mental acuity to use an app to determine which streets they should avoid. This requires complex thinking and reasoning. It is not as simple as pushing a button on your phone and suddenly you know exactly which route to take home.
Get real.

Will, I've just finished my ninth beer. I do not jest, I work the graveyard shift, and therefore do my drinking in the morning. Trust me when I state that I not only have the mental acuity to check an app to see which roads to avoid, but that I still posses the "complex reasoning" to know that I "can drive" if I keep the dotted line on the road in the lower left corner of my windshield, with only one eye open. Trust me, we are dangerous (I state this for all of us who have driven while drunk [of which I am certainly not proud, only to state a point]). Do not underestimate the alcoholics among you. If I can still form coherent sentences at this point, then I am more dangerous than you can imagine. I may even be able to bull$hit my way out of being arrested. That's my thinking, anyway. Care to get in the way of my automobiek? Ooh, I think I'll leave that misspelling there to prove a point.

That's great that you're drinking at work, really. I'm not exactly sure how you think it disproves my point, though. Many of us have driven while intoxicated (even those hypocrites who are leading the charge on this) and we remember how coherent we were and high functioning. The problem is, alcohol affects our memories as well, and the way we remember it isn't necessarily how it went down. Kind of like that guard rail that "jumped" out in front of you.
That's neither here nor there. Driving involves motor function and very little complex reasoning. Concentrating on staying between lines is much different than reading/interpreting the information you're reading in a mobile app and reasoning out a course of action in response to what you interpret. I grew up with an alcoholic and I have quite a bit of experience on what people are capable of in that state.

Uhh Will, I stated that I work the graveyard shift. In other words I work overnight. I'm not drinking at work. I'm thinking you are more drunk than I, not being able to make that connection. Just what do you do for a living, that I might avoid anything that you touch.

You don't have to be falling over drunk to be too intoxicated to drive. And I disagree, it doesn't take "complex thinking and reasoning" to look at map marked with a DUI checkpoint and go home another way. As long as you're not so drunk that the screen is a blurry mess, this type of app will be easy for a drunk to use. I think texting while drunk is more difficult.

You have clearly never used any of these apps, let alone while intoxicated. Get some experience and then come back with an opinion. Right now, you're essentially talking out of your @$$.

No, I haven't used one of these apps, because I don't have a reason to avoid checkpoints. However, I have definitely used google maps while in the passenger seat while too drunk to drive and it's not that hard. Really.

Mrs. Lofte, my point exactly, I am not "falling over drunk," though clearly far too intoxicated to drive at this time (do not think poorly of me, this is my night time). I agree that these apps should not be available to people that might drive drunk. Especially for those that work nights, as I do.

this is really a moot point, these apps don't do anything that cant be done via twitter, Facebook or hell a good ol'fashioned phone call! I wish politicians would stop wasting time on this crap!

Everytime a senator opens his mouth, he or she shows the fact that they are nit informed. If the senator would read his local newspaper, he would see where the police will publish news reports of check points. The place, and time are listed. Police departments do this because they do not want it to be called entrapment. All these apps are doing is reporting what the law enforcement community is already putting out as public information. The senator needs to get out more, and read more. May be he will become better aware of things, and make better decisions when voting on bills.

I agree, the Senator is an idiot. He should do some research before opening his mouth. And in the end, I think these apps are perfectly legal. I still don't like them though and would love to see them gone. Apple can accept/reject any app they want. They can easily throw in a rule that says that apps which encourage illegal activity will not be approved or something like that. I think it's safe to say that an app that warns you of DUI checkpoints is encouraging drunk driving.

Nevermind. Here's what one app claims:
"The idea is that information is power, and people will be less inclined to drink and drive if they know that there is a checkpoint in their area, that they are drunk, and that driving drunk carries major consequences."
Bullsh!t. Make an app that says in big red letters "there are 5 DUI checkpoints in a 10 mile radius of you" instead. Then I'll believe its purpose.

insert ignorant comment here
Just don't be stupid and drink and drive. And use a radar detector to find "hidden cops."

Radar detectors aren't legal in every state. Also, I believe, there's a laser based detector that won't be picked up by consumer radar detectors until you're practically on top of the source, which is too late.
Imo, drive slower and save fuel. Above 45MPG and below 55MPG is where you get the most fuel economy from your engine.

@Leanna, do not worry. I have check police stats, and no matter how much they publish checkpoints, they catch more drunks than they can handle. I guess when your drunk, you will drive, but will not check your phone to see where the fuzz is.

These apps probably aren't even very accurate. The police should make their own app and put in false check point spots and then set up where everyone re-routes and then get them.
Don't drink and drive.
Lastly, the Senator should pick up his local paper. My local city force publishes the check point spots in the paper every weekend or says to expect them at least.

Instead of that, they need to haul in the CEOs of the fortune 500 and make them explain why they refuse to hire people and get people back to work, enough with the smoke and mirrors on issues that don't affect most Americans.

As someone who was hit by a drunk driver, nearly died, was in a comma for a week and have more metal in my leg than an old chevy I pray these things are taken away. If you understand that I am actually one of the lucky ones when it comes to DUI because I lived this is a big problem. How about instead of ducking the checkpoint you(the drunk) use an app to call a F'ing cab and then there wouldn't be any problems.

It's about federal government control, plain and simple. This should be a local and state matter…none of the fed's concern.
Let's not forget Chucky Schumer here is the one that like the TSA sticking their hands down your pants at the airport, and trying to get a No Ride List and security checkpoints at train stations. This guy is a goon, plain and simple, and he has no right forcing Apple to do something it doesn't want to do.
Control freaks..that's all this is. Why don't they worry about the debt, or the 3 military campaigns America is involved in instead of this DUI checkpoint crap. I mean come on

Schumer is a lying scumbag! Nothing new there. In my county the checkpoints are published in advance on the county website.

This is the quandary for Apple - maybe Google and RIM can credibly claim they will not/cannot pull a legal app, but Apple has already set the precedent that they will pull legal apps that go against their morality or policy. Given that Apple makes these decisions as a matter of unpublished, subjective criteria, this will not be the last time a government (or business) official attempts to threaten or influence Apple's opaque process.

Anyone can call the police department where their DUI checkpoints are going to be and they have to tell you to avoid entrapment. These apps are no different.

These apps are for helping drunks avoid the police. They are for helping sober people route themselves around delays caused by DUI checkpoints.

These apps are NOT for helping drunks avoid the police. They are for helping sober people route themselves around delays caused by DUI checkpoints..
I swear TiPb's comment system is designed to change the meaning of everything I say by dropping strategic words here and there...

YES we have the right to these apps! since when does the government have the power to tell a company what kind of product they can and cant sell on their device?! Charles Schumer is just a bid leftist who wants more government intrusion in our life's!

The government needs to just step down a little and let people live here lives a little bit instead of them trying to act like all of our parents. We didn't build a government to control us when they didn't think it was safe. We have a brain we can make decisions on what apps we won't to use or don't want to. Let us decide not them!! Just like I pay $30,000 for a car but yet they tell me what I can do in it and I have to wear a seat belt even though I'm not putting no one else at harm when I don't wear it. Why is that? Do they really feel like they need this much control over all the American people all the time???

You'll find some idiots that will say if it's for their own good the government should control parts of their life. We're seeing a trend of the surrendering of our freedoms. They won't have to take it from us. We're giving it away day by day. Just the other day I watched a news anchor describe a location outside of a courthouse where people could protest & use their PRIVILIDGE (emphasis mine) of freedom of speech. I'm sorry but my freedom of speech is a right. This is what the government wants; for us to be apathetic. The Constitution is the only proof we have of the rights no one can give or take away and we let them infringe on it day after day. Wearing a seat belt makes sense but forcing people too? Do we really want a country of people too stupid to see the value of wearing seatbelts?? Thin the herd. FYI I'm not sober... but I feel strongly about the words I said....if not a little embarassed by the rambling....huh?? Oh yeah apps... Hmmm I'll get back to you on that.

DUI checkpoints are borderline illegal- infringing on the rights of citizens. The only way they get away with it is by offering public notifications in newspapers. They've made the info public (as they must) so there is nothing wrong with these apps compiling this data for people to use.

Here's the big point. It is a proven fact that your reflexes are slower after having drank 1 alchoholic beverage.
In a normal situation it takes a person an average of 3 seconds to recognize that someone is slamming on their brakes. This reaction time becomes longer the more someone drinks.
So here's my thought. If you think you need to check an app to see where the cops are, call a cab. Enough said.

Does anyone else find it ironic that in a senate subcommittee hearing obstensibly invenstigating Apple's violation of privacy rights of US citizens, these senators were pressuring Apple to faciliate the govt's ability to intrude into private citizens lives?

This is public information. Do not tell us how to organize our data.
Police do make money from tickets. In some locations, they do not however it still justifies their salary to the federal govn. The more tickets they write, the higher the crime rate looks. Higher the crime rate looks on paper, the more funding that location receives. It is a scam to some degree.
"DUI" checkpoints do not only check for DUI. They check for any broken law including forgeting you lic. at home, seat belts, ect. The sad fact is, Apple will probably consider their request.

Thanks for this tips but doesn't solve my problem which using iBooks mainly for reading PDF files.I have another fix though. - Enabling "White on Black" through triple-clicking the Home button.