The Latest DUI Exception

Posted by Lawrence Taylor on November 25th, 2006

From today’s Los Angeles Times, the latest “DUI exception to the Constitution“:


CHP Wants You on Call, Just Briefly

As part of a statewide campaign to reduce alcohol-related deaths, the CHP and the State Department of Transportation are urging motorists — via overhead freeway signs — to call 911 to report drivers they suspect have been drinking….

Although state lawmakers recently outlawed the use of handheld cellphones while driving, (CHP Commissioner Michael) Brown said reporting a possible drunk driver falls under the law’s emergency exception.

When an officer responding to a 911 call takes a drunk driver off the road, “we have saved a life”, Brown said.That same perceived danger also pursuaded the California Supreme Court to allow officers to stop suspected drunk drivers based solely on anonymous tips…

The court’s four-member majority cited “public safety and common sense” in applying a lesser standard to police stops involving DUIs. Anonymous tips for other suspected infractions are generally not enough for police intervention.The three dissenting justices said police should have to witness erratic behavior, as they would in most other criminal situations, before taking action…


It’s “common sense” to say violating the cellphone law is ok because you’ve “saved a life” and therefore it’s an “emergency”? It’s “common sense” to say that anonymous tips are too unreliable to justify police action — except with DUIs?

The Constitution is trumped again, this time by the “common sense exception” to the Fourth Amendment.

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