June 30, 2013

Drivers License and DUI Checkpoints

The Outlook News, in Santa Monica, California, reported on local and state efforts to reduce alcohol related deaths over the July 4th weekend, mirroring efforts across the country. DUI checkpoints were set up throughout Santa Monica, with special efforts made this year to prevent motorcycle accidents.

Drivers License and DUI Checkpoints

Increased vigilance, including four checkpoints this year in Santa Monica, has paid off in recent years for the police in California. From 2007 to 2009, California traffic fatalities fell by nearly 25%, with DUI related deaths falling 16%. Overall, traffic deaths in California are at their lowest point in more than six decades.

Recently, however, a rise in motorcycle fatalities in California has alarmed officials. Motorcycle deaths spiked from 204 deaths in 1998, to 560 by 2008, a rise of over 175%. Despite a decrease to 394 motorcycle deaths in 2009, California is still one off the top three states in motorcycle fatalities.

Over half of these deaths involved drivers under the age of 25, without a proper motorcycle license. In an effort to stem the rise in motorcycle deaths, California has initiated special Motorcycle Safety Enforcement Operations, with officers deployed to areas frequently prone to motorcycle accidents. In addition to their sobriety tests and license checkpoints, police remind drivers to be alert for motorcycles, especially when turning or changing lanes.

In related news, Apple announced that they have banned iPod and iPad applications that give drivers an early alert to police DUI checkpoints. Four U.S. Senators, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), urged Apple to remove the applications from their App Store. PhantomALERT was the app singled out by Senators, but the Apple App Store ban extends to any applications that include databases of known DUI checkpoints. Trapster, a similar checkpoint application, has so far avoided the ban by removing its DUI checkpoint functionality, but still warns drivers about police speed traps and red-light cameras.

RIM, makers of the Blackberry, moved in March to remove the offending applications from their BlackBerry App World. As of the beginning of July, Google has held firm and applications like Mr. DUI, Buzzed and Checkpoint Wingman could still be downloaded through the Google Android Market website.