The New York Police Department wants an application called Waze to stop sharing information about police sobriety checkpoints with drivers. In response, Waze claims that the app is designed to show information about general police presence, not sobriety checkpoints specifically.
What is the Waze App?
Developed by Google, the app uses real-time information from reports submitted by users to mark locations where police may be waiting to conduct a sobriety check. The app does not specifically allow users to report sobriety checkpoints but does allow them to submit detailed comments with their reports.
Demands by NYPD to Google to Pull the Waze App
The NYPD has demanded in a letter to the company that Google pull the app because the Department claims that warning drivers about sobriety checkpoints interfere with the efforts of law enforcement to keep roadways safe.
The Department's deputy commissioner, Ann P. Prunty, has stated that posting the information only serves to encourage reckless driving by helping drunk drivers avoid checkpoints. She added that posting the information about where police are located may be illegal because it prevents or interferes with the administration of state DWI laws.
The NYPD has promised to pursue all legal remedies to stop the sharing of what they believe is “irresponsible and dangerous information.”
Google has argued in a statement that safety is a “top priority” and that the app encourages drivers to be more responsible by showing them information about upcoming speed traps. The company has previously faced pressure over the Waze police location reports after a fatal police shooting in New York City.
MADD Weighs In
When asked for comment, the national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving stated that she believed that even if drunk driving checkpoints were publicized in advance, the checkpoints can still operate effectively because impaired drivers would likely not pay attention to that information. She emphasized that the goal of the MADD organization is to discourage drinking and driving and pointed out that the app may serve that purpose.
How Have Other Agencies Responded?
The LAPD's police chief has written a letter to Google about the app stating that it allows people to target police officers. He cited news reports showing that the man who fatally shot two police officers in New York City had posted screenshots from Waze on social media.
In 2015, the National Sheriff's Association began a similar campaign claiming that the app potentially allows individuals to target law enforcement for attacks.
The Association's executive director has stated that the app doesn't prevent drunk driving but instead allows users to evade arrest. He also expressed concern that the app is a threat to public safety because it could potentially help child abductors avoid police checkpoints. He added that some of the app's features, such as accident and hazard warnings can promote public safety.
Charged with a DWI? Consult a Criminal Defense Attorney in North Carolina
Laws on DWI checkpoints are complex and vary from state to state. If you have questions about a driving while intoxicated charge or sobriety checkpoints in North Carolina, contact the attorneys at Caulder & Valentine Law Firm, PLLC by calling (704) 470-2440 or fill out our online form.