Smartphone app causing concern with law enforcement

Sunday, March 30, 2014 - 4:48pm

There's a smartphone app that can help people suspected of driving drunk. It was created by an Iowa law firm.

But some law enforcement officers are skeptical of the app's intent.

If you see red and blue lights in your rear-view, perhaps the aptly named 'Oh Crap App' can help.

It was designed to tell people what they can and can't do when being pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving.

"One of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking that they know their rights," app co-creator, Bob Rehkemper.

Attorney Bob Rehkemper is one of the creators of the smartphone application. He says it lists basic legal rights, has a blood alcohol calculator, and an emergency 'Oh Crap' button for when a person is being stopped.

Hit it and get advice like, 'the less you say, the better,' 'be polite,' and 'lawyer up.'

"But wait, there's more. When you hit that 'Oh Crap' button, it'll turn on your phone's voice recorder and that will record any conversation you have with an officer and send the audio file to a secure server."

The audio is potentially valuable evidence, if someone wants to fight a charge.

"That initial interaction is documented and is recorded so it's not a matter of what somebody remembers, or he said, she said," said Rehkemper.

But the Linn County Sheriff has concerns about this app.

"It's cute, if nothing else," said Linn County Sheriff, Brian Gardner.

He says during traffic stops, using the program could put approaching officers on edge seeing as they might mistake a phone for a weapon.

Sheriff Gardner also worried the app could be used for the wrong reasons.

"If it stops you from being intoxicated and driving, I'm certainly in favor of it. If it tells you how to be intoxicated and drive, and get away with it, there may be some concern there," said Gardner.

Creators estimate the app has been downloaded 4,000 times in the year it's been out.

They say they don't want users drinking and driving, but hope they'll use the app to stay informed in difficult situations.

"People end up in positions and their rights become very important to them, to their family members, to their children. That's the purpose of this app. To understand what they do and what they don't have to do," said Rehkemper. 


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