DUI checkpoint apps - a menace to society or a great way to avoid Los Angeles traffic?
The controversy rages on over the smartphone and tablet applications that provide real time alerts and geographic locations of drunk-driving checkpoints, even entering the national political arena when a few Congress members stepped in to request that Apple Inc., Google Inc. and Research in Motion Ltd - creators of the Blackberry - remove them from their app stores.
While Research in Motion immediately pulled the apps from its store, Apple only banned new DUI checkpoint apps that provided checkpoints not publicized by the police, and Google refused to comply at all, according to USA Today.
While critics of the apps contend that they allow drunk drivers to evade arrests which threaten public safety, legal experts argue that the apps are protected under the 1st Amendment's Freedom of Speech clause, likening them to books, movies and music. This theory has been receiving legal backing with courts ruling that software code is free speech, and the United States Supreme Court striking down a California law banning sales of violent video games to minors last month due to free speech issues.
Although not a 100% guarantee, "given how the court has ruled in the last few years, any law...regulating apps would most likely be struck down," Julie Samuels, an attorney with the consumer and privacy rights advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation, opined to the Los Angeles Times.
Until the courts do make a final decision on the issue or self-policing companies like Apple and Google decide to ban together to completely ban the apps, Los Angeles drivers can continue to use their DUI checkpoint apps like Phantom Alert to avoid the road blocks for whatever purpose they deem - nefarious or otherwise.
"Sure you can use it for bad purposes," Eric Fonoimoana told the Los Angeles Times, "but a lot of people just use it to avoid traffic."
- Find a Los Angeles DUI Attorney (FindLaw)
- Apple Bans DUI Apps (Los Angeles Times)
- California DUI Laws (FindLaw)
- Social Networking Warns Drivers of DUI Checkpoints (The Phoenix DUI Blog)
- DUI Checkpoint Apps Banned by Apple, not Google (FindLaw's Technologist)
- Controversial Phone Apps Can Foil Drunk Driving Checkpoints (FindLaw's KnowledgeBase)