Some call for ban on DUI checkpoint apps

Smartphone vendors have been selling apps that allow users to locate known drunk driving checkpoints and add new checkpoints into the system for others to see. DUI checkpoint apps such as PhantomALERT, iRadar, Checkpointer and Buzzed have quickly become popular with users. However, if the attorneys general of Maryland and Delaware get their way, these apps will be banned.

The attorneys general claim the apps let users find and circumvent DUI checkpoints, which makes it easier for people to drink and drive. One of the attorneys general even referred to the apps as a “roadmap” for intoxicated drivers.

Blackberry used to offer one of these apps, which was called PhantomALERT, but no longer does so. The attorneys general commended Blackberry for removing the DUI checkpoint app. Now, they are calling on Google and Apple to ban the various checkpoint location apps that are available for the Android and the iPhone.

However, Google and Apple are under no legal obligation to stop selling the apps. Many people are surprised to learn that there is nothing illegal about buying or using these applications. The information the apps give is publically available and provided either by police departments or by other drivers. Therefore, while the attorneys general may claim Google and Apple have a corporate responsibility to remove the applications, the businesses are not legally bound to do so.

People who are in favor of Google and Apple continuing to sell these apps point out that letting the government determine which products should be made available to the public could be a slippery slope. What do you think?