Hacker News new | more | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Google and Waze Must Stop Sharing Drunken-Driving Checkpoints, NYPD Demands (nytimes.com)
42 points by kposehn 15 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 78 comments



This is laughable. It's our freedom of speech to alert others to DUI checkpoints, speed traps, or coupons at at the donut shop. Whatever we want. It's the same as flash the brights, which the police have tried (and failed) to stop [1]. I hope the NYPD does try to push this so they can get smacked down in court.

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/201...


That's true, but something tells me the same people opposing this will scream like banshees when people start sharing lists of known speeders and bad drivers publicly.


The government doesn't have freedom of speech rights, and in any case accusing people of being "bad drivers" likely gets into issues of slander in a way that pointing out the fact of the existence of checkpoints or cameras doesn't.


Indeed, it's almost as if the laws were designed to defend liberty and hinder authoritarianism. As if even when authoritarianism sounds like a good idea, it is not...


Just an FYI, the comment you replied to didn't imply that the government do the publishing.

There are several initiatives to tag evidence to plates and locations so that people can watch out for bad and dangerous drivers.

Eg, https://baddrivers.com/


Court records that relate to traffic citations are public record already (with the exceptions of those who can use traffic school to avoid a conviction or violations that are granted expungement for whatever reason).


> something tells me the same people opposing this will scream like banshees when people start sharing lists of known speeders

There is no stigma to speeding. Nobody thinks it reflects badly on you.

People would scream if the government started circulating lists to traffic cops of cars that should be watched for speeding, but that's really not an issue of "being labeled a speeder" so much as "being singled out for harassment by the government".


>There is no stigma to speeding.

Where on earth do you get this generalization from? In my circle of associates, speeders are near-universally castigated as people who willfully endanger the safety of innocent people. And I wouldn't think that would be surprising when you take into account the fact that many/most friends and loved ones have to drive frequently, and the fact that car accidents are so common in the domain of stupid pointless horrible accidental deaths.

Unless you're referring to people who are just going 5-10 mph over, which most people wouldn't call "speeding" conversationally.


FWIW, I've also never head of any sort of generalized stigma regarding speeding. In specific contexts, yes - like "that guy who speeds down this residential street lined with yards full of playing children". But I've never heard of anyone speaking of "speeders" in general the way we speak of, say, "rapists", or "drug dealers", or "kiddie fiddlers" or any of the general "bad people" templates that exist.


Sharing donut coupons doesn't kill bystanders. DUI and speeding does.


So it's not enough to set up anticonstitutional totalitarian checkpoints, but they complain when their victims have the audacity to report on them?! Given how readily these charlatans will waste public resources, it seems like the best way to "make the streets safer" would be to lay off as many are necessary until their organizations can once again focus on fighting crime rather than creating it.

But of course that's just the ongoing issue with these lawless thugs. The noteworthy problem here is the vulnerability caused by centralized applications and centralized app stores. Waze may not immediately succumb to this whining, but the technical foundation of the mobile ecosystem makes it a sitting duck for repeated attacks. Eventually enough pressure will build that they will have no choice but to succumb to the totalitarian ratchet.


The Supreme Court has expressly ruled these constitutional: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michigan_Department_of_State_P...

You can think it was a bad decision (3 judges dissented) that should be overruled, but they are currently constitutional.


The Supreme Court ruling something constitutional does not mean that it is constitutional. It's every citizen's duty to understand the law for themselves, in order to know when the government has exceeded its mandate.


With all due respect the Supreme Court ruling that something is constitutional does make it constitutional regardless of how wrong the decision may be perceived with the benefit of hindsight or even contemporaneously (see a horrible decision like Dredd Scott v. Sandford [0]). The Supreme Court is the final arbiter of constitutionality and even the reversal of a Supreme Court decision by the same body some years after does not render the previous decision unconstitutional. To be blunt, if the Supreme Court says that black is white and white is black then for constitutional purposes black is white and white is black.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dred_Scott_v._Sandford


> To be blunt, if the Supreme Court says that black is white and white is black then for constitutional purposes black is white and white is black.

For legal purposes, you mean. And yes, lower courts would have to follow that fiction. But I would not have to personally agree that white is black, nor would I have to state that the Constitution was written in white ink.

So why when the Supreme Court says that a given action is in line with the Constitution, do I have no choice but to agree? I do agree that courts will follow the SC and I think it's fair to call said action "legal" in that it is allowed by the current legal system. But you're asserting that I cannot state my opinion that a given action is not in line with the intention of the Constitution by using the term "constitutional" because it cannot be removed from the legal context.

This seems akin to stating that a given program is "working correctly" when it malfunctions due to bad memory. We can construct our assumptions so that this statement is correct, it just seems pointless to do so compared to a more descriptive "this problem isn't due to the code itself".

(Of course the real question becomes what happens to the interpretation of private contracts - does the intended qualia prevail, or are the words taken as strict references to terms in White's Law Dictionary?)


It really does. To quote Justice Robert H Jackson ''we are not final because we are supreme, we are supreme because we are final.'

Sure, after that it becomes politics and you can demonstrate in the streets about it, but the right to drive fast isn't exactly the moral crisis of our times so I don't think you're gonna pick up a whole lot of supporters.


Erm, of course a justice of the Supreme Court would say that.

If you don't believe of the People's independent ability to judge the law, then I would ask why is the text of the Constitution so widely published? Why doesn't the public simply forget about it, and wholly defer to what the clergy decree? If the Supreme Court still wants to use the document as their basis they can do so, but to the rest of us it's irrelevant.

> the right to drive fast isn't exactly the moral crisis of our times so I don't think you're gonna pick up a whole lot of supporters

This isn't about driving fast nor drunk, but about creeping totalitarianism. This is the moral crisis of our times, as computing and communications technology have created the ability for the state's tentacles to invade every minute aspect of our everyday lives.

The Bill of Rights is best viewed as a bunch of test cases to judge whether the administrative structure fulfills the purpose of its design. In my opinion, every described right is basically being oppressed in some way or another, for the convenience of those in power. For example, I don't think that being forced into chain-link cages or kicked by horses is in line with the right to peacefully assemble.

An individual is obviously not capable of enforcing their personal judgment across society - the point is to keep one's own perspective straight. This corruption is not of the magnitude that causes violent revolution yet, although people do seem quite polarized these days. Perhaps peaceful agorism can head off collapse, if we're lucky.


> If you don't believe of the People's independent ability to judge the law, then I would ask why is the text of the Constitution so widely published?

All of us here have independent confidence in our own understanding of the Constitution, and lack confidence in at least one other person's understanding of the Constitution. Thus there is no meaningful way in which we could be said to "believe [in] the People's independent ability to judge the law." It is clear that no such collective judgement exists.


Sure, after that it becomes politics and you can demonstrate in the streets about it

I'm not trying to dissuade you from pushing your political demands. It just seems like an odd choice of exemplar for 'creeping totalitarianism.'


The right to travel without passing through checkpoints seems pretty fundamental to me. You don't have to agree, I'm just saying that being required to submit to inspections on demand feels quite invasive to many. I personally don't have to worry too hard about an inspection turning into an execution, but that's all the more reason for me to protest.

Furthermore, the actual issue we're facing down right here is the inability for people to engage in civil disobedience due to centrally controlled walled gardens. There's a limit to how much the cops can actually persecute people who broadcast or avoid checkpoints, but here they are trying to convince the administrators of most people's computers to prevent that behavior entirely!


Seven Supreme Court justices, products of the same era, training, experience, and institutions, cannot in all cases unanimously agree that a thing is (or is not) constitutional.

Let us pause to imagine for a moment the comity arrived at by "every citizen," having taught themselves law in accordance with their civic duty, in considering the same matters.

How are we to imagine a thing to be (or not be) constitutional, in such a circumstance? If most citizens think a thing constitutional, does that make it so? Or have they merely 'ruled' that it was constitutional, in your view, should your own self-taught understanding persuade you differently?

I agree in general that there is a civic duty to understand principles of government, to understand the nature and limits of law and justice, and to grasp (if not embrace) the fundamentals of ethical reasoning.

However, in this instance what you seem really to be saying is that you hold your own judgement to be absolute and superior with regards to what is and isn't constitutional.

I am not going to impugn the quality of your personal reasoning or education. The problem is that that just isn't how it works. None of the rest of us are interested in having that be how it works, and as a pragmatic matter it simply would not 'work' in any meaningful way. It would not result in a system in which most of us could agree and get along.

The overwhelming majority view, from the time of the framing of the Constitution onwards, has been that Section 2 of Article 2 conveys the power of interpretation upon the federal judiciary in instances where the need for interpretation arises within the constraints imposed elsewhere upon their power.

The other view is not a 'view' in the sense of a workable alternative. It is a stubborn naysaying, notionally on principle, that renders the entire system of law and governance unworkable.

We don't want it.


> If most citizens think a thing constitutional, does that make it so?

It means that most citizens think a thing constitutional. You seem to have an assumption that saying "X is constitutional" can only represent some universal fact rather than a personal opinion.

> Or have they merely 'ruled' that it was constitutional

I mean yes, this is exactly how Supreme Court decisions are talked about - whether the Court will rule certain way. A court can rule that pi equals 3 and lower courts will even have to follow that precedent in their own decisions, but it would obviously be foolish for anyone else to repeat this as factual.

What you're doing is akin to equating legality and morality, a standard technique to quash dissent. Categorically ruling out that a code could be wrong prevents being able to critically discuss it.

> It is a stubborn naysaying, notionally on principle, that renders the entire system of law and governance unworkable.

Yes, it is an all-too-common refrain that dissent hinders effective governing.


The text of the constitution at issue is your right to be free from "unreasonable searches". Your pi example ignores the fact that "unreasonable" is hard to define, and indeed, this case would not have reached the Supreme Court if there were easy answers.

All we are saying is that in the United States, what the Supreme Court says on this issue _categorically_ makes it constitutional. That does not mean you cannot disagree with the policy, or advocate it be changed. For example, you could advocate that your state pass a law prohibiting the practice. Or you could advocate to amend the constitution.

But saying it's unconstitutional just makes no sense, and would make our entire system unworkable.

How do you feel about other issues? Is the right to an abortion (Roe v Wade) unconstitutional? Gay marriage? The Affordable Care Act? The right to tax income at all?

There are groups that think all of those decisions were bad and unconstitutional -- but the Supreme Court has the final say. Amend the constitution, pass new laws, protest all you want, but saying any of these things are unconstitutional just because you disagree makes no sense.


> All we are saying is that in the United States, what the Supreme Court says on this issue _categorically_ makes it constitutional

This is a political assertion you are making. It prevents invoking the intent of the constitution without some contextual disclaimer, thus hindering critiques of whether the current government has run aground of its charter.

> There are groups that think all of those decisions were bad and unconstitutional -- but the Supreme Court has the final say

The final say over whether the government considers an action constitutional! While the Supreme Court interprets the law for the government, it does not have a monopoly on the definition of the word "constitutional".

Please note that my original comment even used the term "anticonstitutional", because I did somewhat anticipate this authoritarian fallacy that courts define truth. Regardless of arguing the semantics of whether "constitutional" and "unconstitutional" are constrained to only referencing the legal scope, the argument I'm making is that the practice of stopping and harassing every traveler runs directly contrary to what the founders intended as well as the values our society purports to hold.


No honest person construes disagreement between anonymous strangers on a message board as "quashing dissent." I am stating this first as a warning, since resorting to such devices will terminate my patience in short order.

The statement "X is Y" is a universal assertion. There is a way to reason about disagreement regarding universal assertions. It is to state "X believes that Y is Z." In more colloquial terms, one says "I believe that Y is Z" if one is explaining one's reasoning rather than directly advancing an argument of fact.

You yourself have appealed frequently to universal truths regarding constitutionality. If you had originally said "just because the Supreme Court ruled something as constitutional, it doesn't mean that I believe it is constitutional," then no-one would have batted an eye.

You are doing it again when you assert that I am conflating legality and morality. 'Legality' is a set of truths that arise contingent on an arbitrary set of premises. 'Morality' is an appeal to universality. You are not saying to me: "you are equating legality with the moral code of my Hassidic faith," or whatever. You are introducing the notion of a universal morality that I am confusing with legality.

Were you forced to refer to a moral text, you would be confounded by the fact that the Constitution is, in fact, explicitly a legal rather than a moral text. The Constitution cares not a whit for the Bible nor the Koran in its functioning. It does not rule the good differently than the evil. It is a foundation of law, and solely of law.

So which do you chose? I do not care at all about your opinion regarding the constitutionality of how the Supreme Court rules. I do care about your assertion that there is a universal constitutionality (or lack thereof) to laws that the Supreme Court has not correctly discerned, and that we should thus somehow discard the Constitution in order to save it.


As you said, it is a message board. Basically everything is prefaced with an implicit "I believe", "in my experience", or "in my context". For example, "it is dark outside".

The phrasing of my original statement itself made it quite clear that I was invoking a definition of constitutional different from the simplistic what the Supreme Court decided.

The reason I have characterized it as "quashing dissent" is that you are attempting to rule out what I have said categorically, by choosing definitions and then arguing that my statement is nonsensical with your definitions.

> You are doing it again when you assert that I am conflating legality and morality

I said it was akin. If one thinks marijuana is bad, then it's awfully convenient to counter an argument advocating its benefits with a simple statement that it is illegal. This removes the argument from the context of debating the substance on its own merits, and causes the proponent to fight an uphill battle to get back there.


The other view is not a 'view' in the sense of a workable alternative. It is a stubborn naysaying, notionally on principle, that renders the entire system of law and governance unworkable.

There's a handful of us around who still care about principles.


Nobody knows "the law." Even the Supes each have clerks helping them look stuff up.


Good luck with that.


Most concise rebuttal.


I am struggling to think of a way in which prohibiting the sharing of such information could be made illegal. The checkpoints are publicly visible activities of public employees. The right to photograph and video record police when acting in an official capacity is well established. If anything, noting their location seems less intrusive and more likely to represent a protected form of speech.


In NJ they announce the checkpoints ahead of time in local newspapers. This is (presumably) to avoid breaching the 4th amendment.[1] Otherwise police would have to establish reasonable cause to pull a car over. Or at least that's what a shitload of case law looks like (they had a window obstruction or were driving 'erratically', for instance)

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michigan_Department_of_State_P...


I'm shocked at the comments in this thread decrying DUI checkpoints. Does anyone not see drunk driving as a serious threat to public safety?


1) DUI checkpoints are actually law-breaker checkpoints. Illegal immigrants, non-insured, unlicensed, whatever. They don't just catch and prosecute DUIs.

2) They wreck traffic.

3) In nearly all cases they are easily routed around. Most (if not all) are advertised in a local media -- affording habitual day-drinkers the opportunity to avoid them easily. (this wrecks the REST of the traffic near the area, usually with panicked drunk drivers avoiding the stop)

4) They cost law enforcement time, for very little proven efficacy at anything more than accruing state revenue for expired tags and other small misdemeanors.


1) Is that really a bad thing? Isn't it generally a good thing that law enforcement finds law-breakers?

2) So do drunk drivers that crash.

3) You're arguing against yourself. Yes, it's bad that bad guys get notified so they can avoid checkpoints.

4) Shouldn't law enforcement spend their time enforcing the law? It's well spent time IMO. As you say in (1), they also solve other more serious crimes (e.g. finding wanted criminals)


I find these arguments much more convincing than "muh freedom". If these points are supported by evidence (especially #4) then that's good enough for me.


Thank god one's civil liberties aren't dependent on whether or not you are convinced by them.


Can you tell me which of your civil liberties is being violated by DUI checkpoints?


Traffic stops require reasonable suspicion to pull over your car under the Fourth Amendment. I find it hard to explain how a DUI checkpoint is not a similar action to a traffic stop.


See the Supreme Court ruling on this matter, elsewhere in this thread.


The Supreme Court has made bad rulings - we're certainly lucky Dred Scott v. Sandford doesn't still apply - and a 6-3 split indicates some significant disagreement even among the foremost legal minds in the country.

From a common-sense standpoint, I don't see how a DUI checkpoint isn't fundamentally similar to a traffic stop, regardless of the SCOTUS decision that permits them.


Back to your original comment,

>Thank god one's civil liberties aren't dependent on whether or not you are convinced by them.

Apparently they are dependent on whether SCOTUS is convinced.

A DUI checkpoint is fundamentally different because police are unable to discriminate who they stop. They stop everyone who passes through the checkpoint.


The harm DUI stops try to reduce are far more imminent than regular traffic stops. Drunk driving is far more dangerous than a broken tail light. That difference matters.


Murder's more dangerous, too, but that doesn't mean they can set up a "let's see if you have a dead body in your trunk" checkpoint.

The Fourth Amendment doesn't come with "unless it's super crime-y" exceptions.


You're conflating danger with imminent danger. The immediacy of the danger is highly related to what the state should be allowed to do.

Check these stats:

https://www.westmifflinpolice.com/west-mifflin-dui-checkpoin...

86% of the citations they issued at that “DUI” checkpoint were not for DUIs.

The name is misleading. It’s not a DUI Checkpoint. It’s just a checkpoint. The definition of a police state.


That's not really a helpful statistic. Sure, when police stop people they will find things unrelated to the reasons they stopped them. The statistic that is relevant is the percentage of people stopped that are driving under the influence, i.e., how many drunk drivers they take off the road. Multiply that by the average harm caused by an average drunk driver, and then compare that to the inconvenience/harm caused by creating the traffic stop.

It seems pretty obvious that inconveniencing 100 sober drivers for 5 minutes to prevent a drunk driving death would be worth it, even if 2 others get cited for unrelated offences. Simply citing unrelated citations doesn't really present a full picture.


I find these arguments much more convincing than "muh freedom".

Then you're doing it wrong.


We have lots of threats. We don’t arbitrarily stop every single person to ferret them out. A free society demands some level of risk at the hands of other citizens.

Freedom of movement without harassment is important to me. More important than catching every drunk driver.


> We don’t arbitrarily stop every single person to ferret them out.

This is NYC we're talking about. Stop-and-Frisk was a fun game the cops played for years.


Oh for sure. Terry stops were (are?) massively abused in that city.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stop-and-frisk_in_New_York_C...


It's interesting how effectively propaganda has convinced people that searching known felons for illegal weapons isn't a "common sense gun law."

Edit: Case in point.


Stop-and-frisk had little to do with felony status. It was your black-and-young-and-male status that would trigger a search.


I reject your reasoning of pushing things into absolutes - drunk driving needs to be minimized, and people need to get where they are going. There's a balance between those needs that is optimal. Nobody is preventing you from reaching your destination, "how fast" is the only question.


I never mentioned speed or fear of delay.

DUI checkpoints are not that. They’re generalized fishing expeditions. If you’re sober, but have contraband, they can arrest you for that. Or for having and expired license. Maybe you’re late on your registration.

And I’m not pushing absolutes here. I’m just prioritizing freedom over the moral panic of the day. (Yes, drunk driving is bad. But checkpoints are still an overreaction and there’s little political will to go against MADD. It’s the same dynamic of “won’t somebody think of the children!”)


As a wise man once said, "Drunk driving may kill a lot of people, but it also helps a lot of people get to work on time, so, it's impossible to say if it's bad or not."


You are free to move around. You are not entitled to use public space, especially public transportation infrastructure built by the government, in a way you see fit.

Feel free to build a road in your private land, get drunk and speed all the way you want, nobody's going to impinge on your freedom.


> You are not entitled to use public space, especially public transportation infrastructure built by the government, in a way you see fit.

You are, though. The police can stop you if they've got reasonable suspicion you're committing a crime. They can search and arrest you if they've got probable cause. Outside of that, though, we are entitled to use public spaces.

Westboro Baptist gets to protest outside of funerals. Nazis get to have parades. Street preachers get to shout at passers-by.


Fine, you are entitled to use (most) public space. You are just not entitled to use it in the way you want, depending on what you want.

Thanks to the love of Jesus, the US of A was founded before the invention of automobiles, and there's no equivalent of Second Amendment that grants, I mean, "recognizes" its citizens' inalienable right to drive motor vehicles. Driving is a privilege.

And it relies on people following the social contract around it, including not drinking and driving, and some way to actually enforce it before some drunkard runs over my kids.

If the specific strategies and actions by police are bad-faithed or ineffectual, by all means, argue about these specific points, but I'm tired of these armchair guardians of freedom who think paved roads grow on trees.


It's just people who like to drive fast acting like they're concerned about freedom in general. None of these people give a hoot when it's something that doesn't affect them.


Does anyone not see drunk driving as a serious threat to public safety?

Of course we see it as a threat to public safety. But so are lots of other things, including unchecked expansion of government power.


Drunk driving is a serious threat to public safety.

Giving the police the right to stop people without probable cause is also a serious threat to public safety.


> ... the group expresses concern that people who abduct children could use the app to plot routes that avoid police checkpoints.

That's some spectacularly tenuous, desperate, ludicrous, over-reaching rationalising. Once I got to that point I wasn't sure if the whole thing wasn't a sophisticated trolling exercise.


In SF, I drove by a big road sign that said "DUI checkpoint ahead".

It seemed like the SFPD was advertising it a few blocks in advance and it was easy enough to take another street to avoid it if you wanted to.


Where I'm from (Midwest), they'll set up the same checkpoint signs and then have an alt checkpoint waiting after the most likely exit point.


To optimize, they should probably have the checkpoint only on the alternate route.


The NYPD have no legal recourse to do so regardless of their demands so it shouldn't make any difference.


It does make you wonder. Exactly how much should the government be able to inconvenience the large majority of law abiding citizens to catch the rare few?

This isn't just about checkpoints, but implies to privacy, encryption, etc.


It would be smarter for NYPD cops to start posting fake DUI checkpoints on Waze all over the city. If any Waze users were thinking they could DUI safely, this will persuade them otherwise.


I imagine that even perfectly sober people are interested in skipping these checkpoints, and so a checkpoint on Waze, whether real or not, causes enough traffic diversion that fake checkpoints will just make traffic even more of a mess, which seems unlikely to be a politically popular decision.


I think the traditional attack on this sort of thing is to have a bunch of concerned citizens drive around and create false checkpoints. Or spoof the GPS and just do it from home.


It would be disappointing if Google and Waze capitulated to this demand. DUI checkpoints are unconstitutional and of questionable value.


The Supreme Court confirmed the constitutionality of DUI checkpoints in Michigan Dept. of State v. Sitz [0][1].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michigan_Department_of_State_P...

[1] https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/496/444/


Setting aside the legality of the checkpoints themselves, the general public has a clear freedom of speech right to share information about the activities of law enforcement authorities. Barring some exceptional circumstances, there’s no constitutional authority by which they can prohibit an individual or a company from disseminating this information, especially given its clear value to the public.

Whether the companies capitulate on their own accord or due to some behind the scenes strong arming is another matter.


Maybe they could move the checkpoints into close proximity of drinking establishments.


I've never seen a checkpoint in Manhattan. Where do they typically operate?


I've been through one right before the Holland tunnel.


Makes me think that the NYPD doesn't have any direct connections to Google.




Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: