According to this story from CNN, the New York Police Department has complained to Google, owners of the Waze traffic app, about DUI roadblock alerts:
The New York Police Department in a letter to Google says allowing users to upload GPS data of police locations is “encouraging reckless driving.”
“Individuals who post the locations of DWI checkpoints may be engaging in criminal conduct since such actions could be intentional attempts to prevent and/or impair the administration of the DWI laws and other relevant criminal and traffic laws. 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,” NYPD acting Deputy Commissioner Ann Prunty said in a letter to Google dated February 2.
The letter demands that Google remove any current data and continue to take “necessary precaution” to cease the data posting practice on Waze, Google Maps and any other platform owned or associated with Google.
The Waze website advertises the feature on its website, saying, “Get alerted before you approach police.”
“We believe highlighting police presence promotes road safety because drivers tend to drive more carefully and obey traffic laws when they are aware of nearby police. We’ve also seen police encourage such reporting as it serves as both a warning to drivers, as well as a way to highlight police work that keeps roadways safe,” a Waze spokesperson said in a statement to CNN on Thursday.
“There is no separate functionality for reporting police speed traps and DUI/DWI checkpoints — the Waze police icon represents general police presence,” the spokesperson said.
I was surprised to read this story, because in Illinois, the courts have required that police departments provide advance publicity of a roadside safety check in order for it to pass constitutional muster. This is because a roadblock is an exception to our constitutional guarantee to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.
Illinois courts have held that in order for a roadblock to be legal, the police must take steps to avoid unnecessary intrusion and hassle to the general public. One of these ways is to provide advance publicity. Another is to make sure that the roadblock is clearly marked with signage.
In fact, if you are a regular reader of this blog, you will know that I occasionally post information about DUI roadblocks or enhanced enforcement. I get this information from police department press releases.
In case you are interested, there are additional rules regarding roadblocks, such as that a checkpoint cannot be run at the free discretion of officers. Instead, supervisory personnel must determine the time and location of the checkpoint, there must be procedural guidelines set up and a plan as to which cars are to be inspected (such as every fifth car) so that it is not random or solely at the discretion of an individual officer.