Too many glasses of champagne at Christmas dinner or on New Year’s Eve can make the streets of Riverside County far more dangerous for people at risk of crossing paths with a drunken driver, according to law enforcement agencies.
And if you’re the partier, the time between now and New Year’s Day is an especially bad time to get behind the wheel after a few holiday cocktails.
Through New Year’s Day, law enforcement agencies throughout Riverside County will staff sobriety checkpoints and conduct saturation patrols to target impaired drivers in an end-of-the-year crackdown.
The Avoid the 30 Riverside County DUI Task Force began its year-end campaign Dec. 14. Checkpoints are planned in Desert Hot Springs, Indio, La Quinta, Lake Elsinore, Menifee, San Jacinto and Riverside, while extra patrols are scheduled in Temecula, Beaumont, Blythe, Coachella, Eastvale, Hemet, Jurupa Valley, Palm Desert and Palm Springs.
But, what if you could avoid the checkpoints because you knew in advance where they would be?
With a controversial iPhone app called DUI Dodger, you can.
“In some states, DUI checkpoints are more rampant than ever. Fight back with DUI Dodger, the app that allows you to view DUI checkpoints in your area, before they happen. Information is power, and we think people will be less inclined to drink and drive if they know that there is (or will be) a checkpoint in their area,” states the app’s description in the iPhone App store.
The app’s creator is Geno Rose of Anaheim Hills, a 30-year-old high school teacher.
He told SWRNN that 13,000 people have downloaded his app, which became available in April 2011 and costs $4.99.
Rose said the idea came to him a few years ago when he was driving with his baby son, then six months old. They got stuck in a DUI checkpoint in Orange County for 40 minutes, he said.
“My son was hysterical and crying the whole time. It was a nightmare. I don’t drink. These checkpoints are, to me, tedious. You wait in the line for 40 minutes,” said Rose, who added, “I understand why they’re doing it.”
Rose said he was motivated to try to learn in advance where they would be held, and it’s not hard to find out.
“Ninety percent of it is from press releases from police departments,” Rose said. Also, app users can report checkpoint locations to the app and the locations are added.
Here’s what DUI Dodger offers:
- A “DUI Checkpoint Finder” that locates DUI checkpoints within 50 miles of your current location.
- “DUI Facts and Myths,” a list of common facts and myths about alcohol and driving drunk to help raise awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving.
- A “Walk The Line” game that allows users to test their sobriety level by walking in a straight line with their arms extended. The app will return a grade based on the person’s stability.
- The ability to calculate your blood-alcohol content level based on your gender, amount of consumption, weight, and duration of drinking.
The app created a controversy last year when Senators Harry Reid, Charles Schumer, Frank Lautenberg and Tom Udall unsuccessfully tried to persuade Apple Inc. to remove it from the App store.
“At first they said no, then the senators made a big stink so Apple said, ‘We’ll meet you halfway, we won’t take it out but we won’t let any more in,’” Rose said.
“I received a letter from a senator during this time in which he expressed his disappointment in me as well as Apple, and asked me to remove DUI Dodger from the App store. I responded briefly saying, ‘I am doing nothing illegal, DUI checkpoint locations are public knowledge.”
“All I am doing is making information easier for users to get. I reiterated to them we do not advocate drinking and driving,” Rose said. “Our main thing is no drinking and driving.”
Learn more about the end-of-the-year DUI crackdown in Riverside County at: http://www.avoidthe30.org/press.htm.