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Phone App Troubles DC Police

by | Mar 30, 2011

A few years ago it seemed like only a handful of technically inclined people had Smartphones. Today, it seems like almost everyone in Washington, DC has a Blackberry, Android, or an iPhone. These phones can do all sorts of things with the many applications (apps) you can download. According to a recent story on WTOP, some new apps making waves with the DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) are designed to use the phone’s GPS to alert drivers of the location of nearby DUI checkpoints. Field sobriety checkpoints in Washington, DC are designed to catch people driving under the influence.

Field sobriety checkpoints are becoming increasingly common in Washington, DC. The MPD set up these checkpoints in areas and times they feel are likely to result in a lot of DUI arrests. The police basically set up a roadblock and stop vehicles in a predetermined order. If they decide to stop every fifth car, then they must let four pass though and then must stop next car. The number they chose does not matter, but they must stick to the order they decided upon for the DUI checkpoint to be constitutional. The police will also make an announcement in some public forum as to where the checkpoints are going to be located so that they can say that drivers were warned. If you have been arrested for a DWI, your Washington, DC DUI defense attorney may be able to challenge the police procedure in court.

These Smartphone apps gather these checkpoint announcements and put them on the phone’s GPS similar to the way in which they alert drivers of red light and dc speeding ticket cameras. The police are concerned about that and while it is very difficult to lawfully pull someone over for using a GPS in their car, the MPD may try to justify stopping drivers for other Washington, DC moving violations such as the ban on using cell phones or other handheld devices while driving.