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Senators Asking for Ban on Police DUI Checkpoint Phone Apps

March 23, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – Four Democratic senators want to short-circuit software applications that allow drivers to identify police drunken-driving checkpoints.

In a letter Tuesday, the senators asked Apple, Google and BlackBerry to either disable or quit selling downloadable applications that allow iPhone and iPad, BlackBerry and Android operating systems to identify locations of local police DUI crackdowns.

“We know that your companies share our desire to end the scourge of drunk driving, and we therefore would ask you to remove these applications from your store unless they are altered to remove the DUI/DWI checkpoint functionality,” wrote Sens. Harry Reid of Nevada, Charles Schumer of New York, Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and Tom Udall of New Mexico.

USA TODAY reported Monday that with the spread of traffic cameras and police agencies pumping up revenue from traffic citations, drivers are relying on devices and applications that alert them to such law enforcement tools as speed and red-light cameras, speed traps, school zones and DUI checkpoints.

“One application contains a database of DUI checkpoints updated in real-time. Another application, with more than 10 million users, also allows users to alert each other to DUI checkpoints in real time,” the senators wrote.

“We appreciate the technology that has allowed millions of Americans to have information at their fingertips, but giving drunk drivers a free tool to evade checkpoints, putting innocent families and children at risk, is a matter of public concern,” they wrote. “We hope that you will give our request to make these applications unavailable immediate consideration.”

Costs of the apps vary. Some are free. One offers subscriptions that range from $9.99 a month to $99.99 for a lifetime subscription.

The costs for camera violations also vary.

Red-light camera violations cost $100 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, $124 in Longview, Wash., and $158 in Juno Beach, Fla. Speed camera citations in Cedar Rapids range from $70-$500.

Apple, Google and Research in Motion, maker of BlackBerry devices, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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