NYPD demands that Google's Waze stop revealing DWI checkpoints

New York's finest fear the popular crowd-sourced navigation app could be used to circumvent sobriety checkpoints.

Chris Paukert Former executive editor / Cars
Following stints in TV news production and as a record company publicist, Chris spent most of his career in automotive publishing. Mentored by Automobile Magazine founder David E. Davis Jr., Paukert succeeded Davis as editor-in-chief of Winding Road, a pioneering e-mag, before serving as Autoblog's executive editor from 2008 to 2015. Chris is a Webby and Telly award-winning video producer and has served on the jury of the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. He joined the CNET team in 2015, bringing a small cache of odd, underappreciated cars with him.
Chris Paukert
2 min read
Waze app

The NYPD has sent a letter to Google demanding the removal of DWI checkpoint information on its Waze app.

Linda Davidson/The Washington Post/Getty Images

The New York Police Department is unhappy with Google, and it's demanding that the tech giant take action. Authorities in the Big Apple are upset that Google's hyperpopular navigation app, Waze, gives people the ability to call out and share DWI checkpoints.

In a letter sent Saturday from Ann Prunty, acting deputy commissioner of legal matters at the NYPD, the authorities "demand that Google LLC, upon receipt of this letter, immediately remove this function from the Waze application." 

The sternly worded letter continues: "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." 

The letter from the NYPD comes on the heels of Google adding new features to its Google Maps app -- speed-limit information and speed-camera location alerts. In the case of the latter, Google's own Waze app has had a similar function since 2016.

Previously, similar actions have been taken by police forces looking to curb Waze users' ability to call out police speed traps, but Google's app has withstood any apparent legal challenges.

The crowdsourced app does not presently distinguish between different types of police presence or activities. It simply allows its users to geotag locations where they spot the cops.

Enlarge Image

Click to expand and read the entire NYPD letter to Google.

City of New York

"Safety is a top priority when developing navigation features at Google," a Google spokesperson told WLNY CBS New York in a statement. "We believe that informing drivers about upcoming speed traps allows them to be more careful and make safer decisions when they are on the road."

When reached for comment, a Waze spokesperson told Roadshow: 

"We believe highlighting police presence promotes road safety because drivers tend to drive more carefully and obey traffic laws when they are aware nearby police. We've also seen police encourage such reporting as it serves as both a warning to drivers, as well as a way to highlight police work that keeps roadways safe."

It is unclear whether the NYPD plans any legal action beyond the notification letter.

Update at 12:37 p.m. PT: Google statement added.