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March 23, 2021

New apps alert tipsy drivers to DUI checkpoints

Whether unspoken or not, there’s a certain level of cat-and-mouse gamesmanship between cops and drivers.

Istockphoto_12258853-police For instance, we admonish speeding and publicly consider it reckless behaviour. But, then again, maybe we’re not above flashing our high beams at oncoming cars to let them know a speed trap’s ahead. It’s all part of the game of roadside patrol.

Though DUIs, unless you’re Miguel Cabrera, are never acceptable. So, why is it there’s a flurry of smartphone apps designed to re-route tipsy drivers away from police checkpoints?

Indeed, the latest smartphone applications to cause a stir are so-called DUI checkpoint programs, which allow users to upload in real-time where police traps are set-up.

Via GPS, then, drivers can be alerted when they’re coming toward a recorded stop. The idea being: if you’ve had a few too many, avoid this part of town.

A few U.S. senators have publicly asked Apple, Google and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion to remove the controversial apps, but many are still there if you look on your phone today.

One, named “Fuzz Alert,” justifies its checkpoint-avoiding capabilities by saying DUIs can be “very expensive” for drivers, and here’s how you can help sidestep them. Some of the apps are free; others, like “Checkpointer,” cost $4.99.

Of course, there’s a bit of hypocrisy in calling for the removal of such apps. Speed trap programs and red light sensor alerts – whereby users are warned when they’re nearing cops or the traffic light cameras – have been around since the dawn of app downloads. One of them, which alerts to live DUI checkpoints, has more than 10 million users constantly updating its database of cop stops.

According to PC Mag, Apple, Google and RIM haven’t yet responded to removal requests of the divisive applications.

What do you think? Is the DUI checkpoint app morally wrong or just a harmless case of smartphones boasting what they’re capable of?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...