DUI Checkpoints

Tennessee, by law, required to publicize DUI checkpoints

If you’re one of the 100 million drivers who use Waze, you probably appreciate how the app can save you time on the road and money at the gas pumps. It can give you a heads-up about traffic accidents and offer up alternative routes. But the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app recently came under fire for one of its other features: letting users know the whereabouts of police officers and pointing out DUI checkpoints.

NYPD and Waze

In February, the New York Police Department – the biggest police force in America – demanded that Google (which bought Waze in 2013 for an estimated $1.3 billion) pull features identifying locations of police officers and DUI checkpoints.

“The NYPD has become aware that the Waze Mobile application … currently permits the public to report DWI checkpoints throughout New York City and map these locations,” reads the letter by the NYPD’s Acting Deputy Commissioner for Legal Matters Ann Prunty. “Accordingly, we demand that Google LLC, upon receipt of this letter, immediately remove this function from the Waze application.”

While Waze users can’t specifically point out DUI checkpoints, they can use an icon of a cartoon policeman to mark spots on the map where police are.

In an email statement to The Verge, Google said, “Safety is a top priority when developing navigation features at Google. We believe that informing drivers about upcoming speed traps allows them to be more careful and make safer decisions when they’re on the road.”

Prunty said that posting that information is “irresponsible” because it helps drunk drivers avoid DUI checkpoints and it “encourage(s) reckless driving.” She also claimed that the Waze users who share locations of sobriety checkpoints may be violating the law because she argued, “such actions could be intentional attempts to prevent and/or impair the administration of the DWI laws and other relevant criminal and traffic laws. … Revealing the location of checkpoints puts those drivers, their passengers, and the general public at risk.”

DUI Checkpoints by states

While the U.S. Supreme Court has found DUI checkpoints to be constitutional, 10 states (Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming) do not administer them. Many other states – including Tennessee – require law enforcement to publicize the checkpoints ahead of time.

If you need information about DUI law, contact the law offices of Joshua T. Crain.