Is Waze really reporting DWI checkpoints?

The short answer is no. Waze the popular GPS app does allow users to designate the presence of police. Waze does not mark their presence as “DWI checkpoint” though.

What’s the beef between the NYPD and Waze?

Waze is upsetting the NYPD because it is forcing them to get creative, they are losing money and they don’t like the challenge. Waze has been around since 2006, since 2013 they have had a major foothold in the U.S. It has taken 6 years for the NYPD to realize that they are losing money as people evade their checkpoints and speed traps.

Waze can do this because of free speech. The users of Waze are doing nothing more than communicating with each other about the presence of police. In Waze you have three options, visible, hidden and other side of the road. There is no option to say “DWI checkpoint” unless you write a message which people could view with your marker. Average users though just look for the marker and avoid that.

Over the weekend, the NYPD sent a cease-and-desist letter to parent Google. Demanding that Google remove that feature from Waze that alerts drivers to police presence. Within the Cease and Desist the NYPD stated:

“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,”

Acting Deputy Commissioner for Legal Matters Ann Prunty wrote: “Accordingly, we demand that Google LLC, upon receipt of this letter, immediately remove this function from the Waze application.”

The letter is worded in such a way as to threaten Google because it is nothing more than a threat. Google has no obligation to oblige the NYPD because free speech protects the users and the communications within Waze. This isn’t the first time cities have complained about Waze. City planners have long had issues with the way in which Waze routes heavy traffic to avoid delays, sending cars through once quiet neighborhoods and side roads.

At the end of the day, the NYPD threat means nothing. Waze isn’t going anywhere.