Here’s a scary thought: if you’ve tied one on at a party, or closed down your local watering hole, there are apps to get you home without hitting a DUI checkpoint. More precisely, there WERE apps for such a purpose on Blackberry devices, but RIM (parent to BlackBerry) has announced a ban on all such apps. As of today, there are still checkpoint avoidance apps for the iPhone and Google platforms, but I wouldn’t expect them to be around much longer, and that’s a good thing.
The apps work by soliciting data from other drivers, who report locations of DUI checkpoints (or police roadblocks) in real time. All the apps bypass the obvious legal ramifications by claiming to be “for entertainment purposes only”, in much the same way that tobacco shops sell water pipes for use “with tobacco only”. The truly frightening thing is pondering how many drivers, already impaired, are navigating via smartphone to avoid getting stopped at a checkpoint.
RIM’s action comes after four U.S. Senators wrote smartphone manufacturers, requesting that the apps be banned in the interest of public safety. While DUI fatalities are down compared to decades past (thanks largely to improved public awareness), some 10,000 people still die on U.S. roads annually as a result of drunken driving.