Archive for June 5th, 2006

Sobriety Checkpoints: the Slippery Slope

Monday, June 5th, 2006

The Supreme Court’s validation of DUI "sobriety checkpoints" as an apparent "DUI Exception to the Constitution" was yet another transparent attempt to circumvent the Constitution — in this case case, the 4th Amendment’s protection against stops by police for no cause. (See "DUI Sobriety Checkpoints: Unconstitutional?") Yet, checkpoints have repeatedly been shown to be considerably less than effective (see "Do Roadblocks Work?" and "Do Roadblocks Work – Part 2").

But as citizens across the country are discovering, these roadblocks are increasingly being used by police as a pretext to stop citizens for reasons other than DUI investigations — as a revenue-raising method by issuing license, registration or equipment citations (see "DUI Roadblocks for Fun and Profit") or, increasingly, for general questioning and searches.

DUI Checkpoints Find Controversy

Method raises civil liberties concerns

York, PA May 28, 2006 ? When police snagged Cody Whitten in a sobriety checkpoint, two words echoed through his head like the gentle thud of boots trudging up to his car. Papers, please! "It’s like we’re living in 1940s Germany," said Whitten, a Wrightsville-area man who said the random checks violate his Constitutional rights. He said checkpoints are an excuse to run background checks on him and every person coming home from work on a Friday evening – people who aren’t breaking any laws. "That’s not the way it’s supposed to be," Whitten said…

Residents in the area are told to expect more barricades in coming months. But according to arrest records from the last few years in central Pennsylvania, the tool isn’t as efficient as roving patrols that target drunken drivers. And civil libertarians, frustrated by what they see as a post-Sept. 11 sentiment that security and safety should trump individual rights, hope that argument will help win a battle they don’t have time to fight…
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