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Local police dont put a lot of stake in DUI checkpoint app

Published: Wednesday, May 18 2011 6:33 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Knowing the location of a DUI checkpoint or an officer with a radar gun could be just as easy as downloading an application on a smart phone.

A handful of applications offer maps, alerts, even an opportunity for people to report a "trap" to other motorists.

Applications like "Fuzz Alert" have raised concern among some Democratic lawmakers, including Sen. Charles Schumer of New York and Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada. They're asking the likes of Apple, Research in Motion, which makes Blackberry smartphones, and Google to ban sales of the apps.

But the CEO of "Fuzz Alert" tells USA Today he's actually seen an increase in sales since the lawmakers spoke out.

And in Utah, some police agencies aren't sure what all the fuss is about. "It actually helps us do what we want to do," said South Salt Lake police officer Gary Keller. "We want to deter drunk drivers. We want people to know that, yeah, we are out there looking for them."

Sgt. Ted Tingey of the Utah Highway Safety Office agrees, in fact he said it advertises its enforcement efforts in hopes of keeping drunken drivers off the road to begin with. He said he's seen times when DUI checkpoints have prompted club owners and others to provide courtesy rides home for patrons.

Neither Tingey nor Keller think an impaired driver would be likely to actually use the app before getting behind the wheel. "When people become intoxicated, the first thing that goes out the window is judgment," said Keller. "So a lot of times they may know about the checkpoint. They may have these apps on their phones but they ignore them because of the lack of judgment."

Local DUI attorney Tyler Ayers agrees. He says the apps are little more than novelties.

Email:mgiaque@desnews.com

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