The NYPD has sent a demand to Google, demanding that its Waze navigation application no longer warn drivers of DUI checkpoints.
The driving application, which allows vehicle operators warnings alert other users to the location of police, traffic cameras and a multitude of road hazards, has often come under scrutiny by law enforcement, who often lose the element of surprise thanks to the crowd-sourced real-time information input feature of the Waze app.
In response to the app’s many features, the NYPD issued a less-than-warm letter to Google this weekend,
“The posting of such information for public consumption is irresponsible since it only serves to aid impaired and intoxicated drivers to evade checkpoints and encourage reckless driving,” wrote Ann P. Prunty, the department’s acting deputy commissioner for legal matters. “Revealing the location of checkpoints puts those drivers, their passengers, and the general public at risk.”
According to The New York Times, Prunty -and through her, the NYPD- took a formal, written stance against the app, claiming that people sharing the locations of sobriety checkpoints on Waze might be breaking the law by trying “to prevent and/or impair the administration,” and plan on pursuing methods to prevent people from sharing what they deemed “irresponsible and dangerous information.”
From happily enforcing strict gun laws to “stop and frisk,” the NYPD is not exactly known to be the uniformed champions of the personal liberties that many Americans hold near and dear. With that said, there is some -albeit thin- merit to their complaint- in 2015, the app was found on the phone by the man who ambushed two NYPD officers in their squad car, leading the NYPD Sergeants Union and a national sheriff’s group to request the police-spotting feature be deactivated.
Whether or not such correlation is sturdy enough to make a case, however, remains to be seen.
It should be noted that Waze does not allow drivers/users (since technically, the app is supposed to be used by a passenger if the vehicle is moving) to specifically identify a DUI checkpoint for what it is, but rather simply has an icon denoting police presence.
Google countered the letter on Wednesday, saying that the number one priority of Waze is safety, and that “that informing drivers about upcoming speed traps allows them to be more careful and make safer decisions when they’re on the road.”
Mothers Against Drunk Driving President Helen Witty chimed in as a third party in the dispute, noting that DUI checkpoints are often published before they are created and that an impaired individual is likely going to ignore the warnings from the Waze app.
“If you are impaired, you are not going to pay attention to that information,” “We want these things publicized…One of the major efforts is education. The goal is to make everyone aware that if you drink, don’t drive, and if you drive, don’t drink.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, claim that DUI checkpoints only reduce the risk of drunken driving crashes by 20 percent.
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