Archive for December 18th, 2009

DUI Roadblocks Act as Deterrents, But…Don’t Tell Anyone

Friday, December 18th, 2009

I’ve posted repeatedly that DUI roadblocks, aka "sobriety checkpoints", are ineffective at apprehending drunk drivers.  See, for example, Do DUI Roadblocks Work? and Do DUI Roadblocks Work? (part 2).  Faced with irrefutable facts, police agencies simply switch horses and say that they are effective as deterrents.  In other words, "Ok, they don’t work but they scare people". See Purpose of DUI Roadblocks: "Shock and Awe" and OK, DUI Roadblocks Are Illegal and Don’t Work, But… 

So why do they get upset when others publicize roadblock locations?


Apps Alert Drivers to DUI Checkpoints

Washington, D.C.  Dec. 16 — Modern technology is turning the table on cops. Drivers can now get instant warnings on their cell phone or GPS when a DUI checkpoint is near. That has police outraged and worried that drunk drivers could use it to escape arrest…

In Montgomery County, Maryland, police sometimes announce DUI checkpoints without exact locations. Police say having that information out there could endanger everyone on the road.

"If that were to occur, it could cause someone to go ahead and drink and drive because they think they’ve got a free pass," said Captain Paul Starks of the Montgomery Count Police Department.

"If you know there’s a crackdown for DUI, then you’re most likely not going to do it," said Jonathan Milman, the co-creator of (Iphone app) Buzzed. "And that’s where our cab feature comes in."

Still, there’s no preventing people from using the checkpoint alerts to get away with driving drunk. But the point, both companies say, is to deter drunk driving in the first place.

"Why do people put a home security sign in front of their house? It’s to stop the burglar from coming in, in the first place," Milman said. "That’s the purpose of DUI checkpoints. It’s to stop people from driving drunk in the first place."

"We’re not blowing their cover, not undercutting their efforts," said Scott. "Actually we’re enhancing it."

They invite police to team up with them by providing checkpoint locations directly. Don’t expect Montgomery County to sign on.

"I don’t know that we’re going to ever be interested in letting people know exactly where our DUI checkpoints are," said Starks.
 

Incidentally, when the U.S. Supreme Court permitted DUI roadblocks despite the fact that they’re a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment, they also said that certain safeguards must be used — including advance publicity warning the public of roadblock locations.  See Michigan v. Sitz.  Of course, police have become very adept at "publicizing" the roadblocks on the back pages of throw-away publications no one reads — or, as in Montgomery County, simply keeping the locations secret.
 

Share