Guy Tweeting DUI Checkpoints Makes MADD Mad
"MrCheckpoint" stands accused of enabling drunk drivers. He says he's protecting everyone.
The founder of MrCheckpoint—a Twitter account and app service alerting drivers to DUI checkpoints throughout Southern California—deems himself "the people's Batman on the roads." But Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) doesn't find his efforts so heroic. Police are required by law must post their inspection locations online, so 25-year-old Sennett Devermont sifts through information from the LA Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies, and sends out alerts every night after dark. The operation began as tweets to friends, but MrCheckpoint now has 42,000 Twitter followers, 20,000 text subscribers and thousands of app users. Advocate groups like MADD are up in arms, claiming that his alerts help drunk drivers avoid penalties. "While we support the publication of checkpoints as a deterrent to drunk driving, sites like MrCheckpoint alert drunk drivers so they can evade arrest,” says Pat Rillera, executive director of MADD's LA office, “It's not meant as a positive."
But Devermont insists that he's using his power for good—his alerts encourage drinkers to stay home, find a designated driver, or call a cab. His Twitter and Facebook accounts receive numerous thankful messages from people who chose these alternatives, and many post photos of themselves enjoying an evening in. "I want to make MrCheckpoint the next-generation MADD,” Devermont explains. “Since August of last year, we have sent out more than 1 million text messages helping identify these checkpoints. Here's one of the things I tweet all the time: 'If you can't afford a $40 cab ride, you can't afford a $10,000 DUI.'" And even some law enforcement officials are on his side. Lt. Shan Davis, Beverly Hills Traffic Bureau commander, says MrCheckpoint "is a great thing...If we can get people thinking about these checkpoints so they're not driving drunk, then it's good. Take a cab, or give your keys to a friend."