Senators Pressure Apple, Google to Remove DUI Checkpoint Apps

Posted by Lawrence Taylor on May 11th, 2011

It’s amazing how twisted things can get when politicians want to grab headlines…


Google, Apple Pressed to Remove DUI Checkpoint Apps

PC World.  May 11 – Google and Apple are under pressure from Senator Charles Schumer to remove smartphone apps that alert users to the locations of nearby police DUI checkpoints. These apps typically use your device’s GPS capabilities to alert you to nearby speed traps, red light traffic cameras, and DUI checkpoints from a database of user-generated locations.

Schumer asked Apple and Google to consider whether these apps violate the companies’ respective terms of service by facilitating illegal activity. These apps "endanger public safety by allowing drunk drivers to avoid police checkpoints," Schumer said during a hearing for the new Senate Judiciary subcommittee on privacy and technology…

Guy Tribble, Apple’s vice president for software technology, also pointed out during the hearing that many police departments across the United States already publicize the locations of DUI checkpoints.


Offering checkpoint apps is "facilitating illegal activity"?  Ok, Senator, here’s a refresher course on the Constitution….

A number of years ago the Michigan Supreme Court held that DUI roadblocks (aka "sobriety checkpoints) were unconstitutional. Such warrantless stops, the court correctly concluded, were a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution since American citizens cannot be stopped in their cars without reasonable suspicion to believe that they had committed a crime.

The United States Supreme Court thereafter reversed the state court. In Michigan v. Sitz, Chief Justice Rehnquist essentially admitted that the stops were violations of citizens’ rights — but found that these were only "minimal" violations. And these minimal intrusions, Rehnquist found, were outweighed by the more important interests of the government in ensuring safety on the highways. However, the Court left to the states the role of determining how to minimize these intrusions.

The first state supreme court decision to define these regulations was Ingersoll v. Palmer. In that landmark case, which has served as a model for other states, the California Supreme Court laid down ways to minimize the intrusions mentioned by the U.S. Supreme Court in Sitz. These procedures specifically included the use by police departments of  "advance publicity":


"Advance publicity is important to the maintenance of a constitutionally permissible sobriety checkpoint. Publicity both reduces the intrusiveness of the stop and increases the deterrent effect of the roadblock.

"The concurring opinion in State ex rel. Ekstrom v. Justice Ct. of State, supra, 663 P.2d 992, at page 1001 explained the value of advance publicity: "Such publicity would warn those using the highways that they might expect to find roadblocks designed to check for sobriety; the warning may well decrease the chance of apprehending ‘ordinary’ criminals, but should certainly have a considerable deterring effect by either dissuading people from taking ‘one more for the road,’ persuading them to drink at home, or inducing them to take taxicabs.

"Any one of these goals, if achieved, would have the salutary effect of interfering with the lethal combination of alcohol and gasoline. Advance notice would limit intrusion upon personal dignity and security because those being stopped would anticipate and understand what was happening." (663 P.2d 992, 1001, conc. opn.Feldman, J.; see also State v. Deskins, supra, 673 P.2d 1174, 1182.) Publicity also serves to establish the legitimacy of sobriety checkpoints in the minds of motorists. Although the court in Jones v. State, supra, 459 So.2d 1068, found that advance publicity was not constitutionally mandated for all sobriety roadblocks, nevertheless the court offered the observation, consistent with finding reasonableness under the Fourth Amendment, that [43 Cal. 3d 1347] "’[A]dvance publication of the date of an intended roadblock, even without announcing its precise location, would have the virtue of reducing surprise, fear, and inconvenience.’ [Citation.]" (Id., at p. 1080.)"


Gee, maybe that’s why, as the Apple V.P. tried to explain to Senator Schumer, "many police departments across the United States already publicize the locations of DUI sobriety checkpoints".

On the other hand, maybe the Senators should subpoena the state supreme court justices and find out why they’re " facilitating illegal activity".
 

Share