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Apple and Google Consider the Continued Availability of Sobriety Checkpoint Apps.

With the approach of the Memorial Day holiday weekend, there have been a lot of questions floating around regarding OVI checkpoints. Everyone wants to know when, where, and if law enforcement will be setting up sobriety checkpoints in Ohio. In recent years smartphone manufacturers Apple and Google, in an attempt to fill the constant demand for this type of information, have published apps, such as Buzzed and Fuzz Alert, that notify users of the times and locations of sobriety checkpoints.

Controversy Over Removal of OVI Checkpoint Apps

The growing popularity of apps such as these has raised the ire of U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Tom Udall, who have recently criticized Apple and Google for failing to remove these apps from their stores. Schumer contends that these apps provide drunk drivers with information that allows them to avoid police checkpoints.

This view ignores, however, a fundamental reason why, in Michigan v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444 (1990), the United States Supreme Court upheld the use of sobriety checkpoints as constitutionally sound; providing prior notification of the time and location of sobriety checkpoints tends to curb drunken driving. Indeed, the Court, in demanding that sobriety checkpoint be accompanied by publication, specifically recognized the deterrent effect that notification would have on the general population.

Further, it is clear that, at least in the case of Buzzed, the app is merely a medium for disseminating information already published by law enforcement. Bud Tribble, vice president of software technology at Apple, commented:

"One of the things we found is that some of these apps are actually publishing data on when and where the checkpoints are [using information] published by the police departments. In some cases, the police department actually publishes when and where they're going to have a checkpoint...They believe that these checkpoints provide a deterrent effect."

Although the existence of an app which alerts drunken drivers to the presence of sobriety checkpoints initially sounds like a bad idea, the truth of the matter is that these apps likely do more to curb drunk driving than do the checkpoints themselves. I, for one, applaud the resolve of Apple and Google to continue providing its customers with products which make for a safer America.

Have you been arrested for OVI? Contact an Akron OVI Attorney today.