Smartphone apps helps motorists understand their rights and alerts contacts that you’ve been stopped by police. The phone’s camera can record the interaction.
You’re driving and a police officer turns on blue lights. You hear sirens and pull over. The officer approaches. If the officer suspects you’ve been drinking, can you refuse to take a field sobriety test or blow into a blood-alcohol reader? If the officer wants to search your car, can you say no? You shouldn’t have to guess about your rights, says tech entrepreneur Mbey Njie, the Charlotte Observer reports
. In both scenarios, DUI and police search laws vary by state. Njie created a smartphone app called “Legal Equalizer.” It helps you understand your rights and alerts selected contacts in your phone that you’ve been stopped by a police officer and hopefully avoid the need for drunk driving lawyers
or representation of any kind. A built-in video feature uses your phone’s camera to record the interaction and the video is automatically saved.
The app was prompted by Njie’s frustration, as a black man in North Carolina and Georgia, about being frequently pulled over for minor traffic violations. The first version of the Legal Equalizer app emerged in 2015 and was marketed as a police watchdog tool. It was a year after Michael Brown was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., setting off a week of protests. Legal Equalizer puts the camera in the hands of a person stopped by a police officer. In the first two years, Legal Equalizer saw nearly 100,000 app downloads. There are similar apps put out by the American Civil Liberties Union, Cop Watch and Five-O. To set his apart, Njie has expanded the scope to include links to local legal help and descriptions of state and federal laws relevant to police searches, DUIs, and drug possession. Njie hopes to broaden the app’s tools to be useful for victims of domestic violence and people targeted by immigration officers.