Let’s get it out at the start, drinking and driving is a monumentally stupid idea. If you’re extremely lucky you’ll get home only hitting the mailbox on the way in your driveway. Most likely, you’ll hit something bigger on the way and not only ruin you day, you could take the lives of innocents who had the unfortunate luck of crossing your dumbass path.
DUI Checkpoints Legal?
With that said, DUI checkpoints really skirt the edge of what is legal.
The United States Constitution (your country’s rules may vary) states a citizen cannot be stopped without probable cause. DUI checkpoints assume guilt before proven innocent.
DUI, there’s an app for that
There are phone applications, like Buzz’d and Fuzz Alert, which help you know where the DUI checkpoints are in your area. This can help you avoid an unnecessary delay when driving somewhere, but lets be honest, you’re using it to avoid getting your sorry ass caught.
Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) is demanding answers from Apple and Google as to why these applications are allowed. Apparently the Senator doesn’t know the law very well. No surprise there. I’m convinced most of the representatives in Washington have never looked at the Constitution.
DUI Checkpoints History
For those who don’t know the history of DUI checkpoints, years ago some guy named Sitz (as in he should have sitz instead of driving his drunk ass around) sued the state of Michigan police department (Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz) claiming the DUI checkpoints were a violation of the Constitution. The Michigan Supreme Court agreed, but the Supreme Court overruled the decision. Get this: Chief Justice Rehnquist admitted the checkpoints were probably a violation of the Constitution, but it was a minor violation so it was ok. If you violate the Constitution only a little bit, its ok. Yeah, the stoopid, it burns.
To make up for the “minor violation” of the Constitution, the rules were later refined for everyone by the California Supreme Court in Ingersoll v. Palmer. In that ruling, the court decided in order to minimize the intrusion, police had to notify the public in advance. That’s right. These apps are getting their information from the police who are required to publish the DUI checkpoints in advance.
DUI Checkpoint locations public info
Now the police would love to publish this information someplace where no one looks, like a newspaper, but a few companies had the bright idea of publishing the PUBLIC information in a phone app where someone might actually see it. That’s the real problem here. The police are required to publish the information so DUI checkpoints can get around the stickiness of the Constitution. They just don’t want anyone to know.
You might not like the phone apps, but they are legal. It’s like the First Amendment. There might be lots of opinions you don’t want to hear, but the amendment is there to protect the speech you don’t like. So do you want to allow DUI checkpoint applications on phones, or do you want to toss out the Fourth Amendment? As to why Apple and Google allow the DUI checkpoint applications, the Senator from NY should do a little reading before asking stupid questions.
UPDATE (06-08-11) : Apple is no longer accepting DUI checkpoint apps
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