A SoCal teacher hopes his DUI checkpoint app will help keep drunken drivers off the road - but an anti-drunk driving advocacy group claims it could give drivers a “false sense of security.”
Geno Rose, a high school special education teacher from Anaheim Hills, worked with a San Diego developer to create the DUI Dodger app, a searchable app in which users can not only find checkpoints across the country but also upload locations for others to see.
The idea for the app sparked when Rose and his wife got stuck in a checkpoint as their newborn son cried in the back seat, he told NBC4.
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"The baby was crying and had a dirty diaper, so I was hoping to get home quick and stumbled upon a DUI checkpoint," he said. "I was sitting in the checkpoint and I said, 'There's got to be a way to know these are up ahead.'"
Rose designed the app in February 2011 to not only prevent drivers from drinking and getting behind the wheel, but also to help sober drivers get where they need to go more quickly.
"You don't have to be drinking to want to use (the app)," Rose said.
The app enables users view and submit checkpoints by marking a map location where they spotted one. It also comes with a Walk the Line test that measures a person's stability as they walk while holding the phone, and a Blood Alcohol Content level calculator.
A message displayed during the tests tell users the results are "for entertainment purposes only," and instructs them, "Use common sense and just do not drink and drive at all."
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) spoke out about the app, noting that while authorities often announce checkpoints in advance to ultimately deter drunken driving, the priority is for people to only drive sober no matter what.
"Regardless of how the information is distributed, we just want people to not drink and drive and get home safely," MADD spokeswoman Amy George said.
While MADD said it does not support apps with BAC calculators because it gives the user a "false sense of security that it's safe to drive" when it isn't, the advocacy group said checkpoints help prevent DUIs.
"Would-be drunk drivers hear the message that if they drive drunk, they will get caught. Would-be drunk drivers then see law enforcement out in force, creating a strong deterrent effect, preventing people from driving drunk in the first place," MADD National President Jan Withers said in a statement.
Some US senators have opposed the checkpoint finder app because it could help drunken drivers evade checkpoints and avoid consequences, Rose said.
"The last thing we want to do is promote drunk driving," Rose said. "I've heard that argument, but people are going to do what they're going to do. I hope it makes them think twice or three times before doing it."
The DUI Dodger app is available for download in the Apple Store for $2.99.