The Philadelphia DUI Law Blog

DUI Checkpoints, App for That, But Are They Dangerous?

You can point an app towards the sky that will locate and map constellations. There is an app that finds the lowest gas prices in your area and gives you directions to the pump. And there are apps to help you avoid DUI checkpoints, reports the Times Leader. These apps, which rely on publication notices by police departments, notify drivers of checkpoints so that they will be deterred from driving drunk.

The apps have scored the endorsements of local police departments, as well as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, because they feel that the app will deter drunk driving.

So how much will these apps cost you? Well, the NepaCheckPoints.com app costs $14.97 for the first year, which includes the first year of service and an SMS Gateway fee for sending text alerts to your phone. After that first year, it will cost you $26.97 per year. An alternative is SobrietyAlerts.com, which is either $19.95 a year or $8.85 per quarter, with a onetime $4.95 fee.

These apps do seem like a good investment for those that may get behind the wheel drunk. So, do the apps actually encourage that?

The penalties for a first time DUI in Pennsylvania depends on your BAC, but for those below 0.10, the penalty is a $300 fine, an alcohol education class, and up to six months probation. The penalty is far from draconian and seems like a fair punishment that would serve as a wakeup call for those that think driving under the influence is no big deal. There is also no license suspension involved.

For those between 0.10 and 0.159, the penalty is a minimum of two days in jail up to a maximum of six months in jail, a larger fine, and alcohol education classes. Above 0.159 is three days in jail and a bigger fine. For those that did not cause an accident or harm anyone, they will likely be placed into the diversion program for first time offenders and have to complete counseling and community service.

Alternatives to these apps exist. Besides advance planning and cab rides, there is an app that finds you a sober ride, appropriately titled FreeRideHome. The app coordinates with sober ride programs to find the nearest sober driver. It deters DUIs without enabling those violating the law to ditch the police.

The deterrence argument for NepaCheckPoints and SobrietyAlerts makes sense. People will see that checkpoints exist and will instead get a sober driver. But is that really what is going to happen? A person who drives drunk regularly are often not the type who plans ahead. If they were, they would have a designated driver.

Is anyone else picturing drunk people checking apps to avoid the police on their phone while driving home from a bar? Are these apps really making the streets safer?

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