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Apps Encouraging DUI to Be Discontinued



Several U.S. senators have raised concern about cell phone apps that may be encouraging driving while intoxicated. Senators Charles Schumer of New York, Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, Harry Reid of Nevada, and Tom Udall of New Mexico have asked Apple and Google to remove smartphone applications that alert motorists of the locations of police DUI checkpoints, according to PC World. These applications use the GPS capabilities of cell phones to alert drivers of nearby checkpoint locations. Users who see the locations of speed traps, red light cameras, and DUI checkpoints report them and a database of the locations is then stored by the apps. "We know that your companies share our desire to end the scourge of drunk driving, and we therefore would ask you to remove these applications from your store unless they are altered to remove the DUI/DWI checkpoint functionality," stated the senators in a letter to Apple, Google, and Blackberry maker Research in Motion.

According to Senator Schumer, these applications "endanger public safety by allowing drunk drivers to avoid police checkpoints." Apps such as Buzzed and FuzzAlert were specifically mentioned by Senator Schumer as examples during a hearing before the newly formed Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy and Technology. Further applications such as Trapster, MrDUI, Checkpoint Wingman, and DUI Dodger are also available for Android and iPhone users.

Some Apps Delete DUI Checkpoint Features

The Senators' complaints appear to have been heeded. The newest addition of FuzzAlert appears to have deleted the DUI checkpoint feature. Furthermore, a search of Apple's App Store did not call up either the Buzzed or FuzzAlert application. Both Google and Apple also agreed to report back to Congress after they have reviewed whether these apps violate the companies' terms of service by helping people commit a crime, namely drunk driving.

Not surprisingly, the makers of the apps do not feel that their products aid people in breaking the law. "We're doing exactly what the police departments are doing — putting up [public service announcements] and letting people know there are checkpoints — to deter people from drinking and driving," said a representative of PhantomAlert, another of the applications in question. For now it appears that Apple at least does not agree. The ongoing collision of new technology and the law will continue to bear watching.