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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Let me start off by saying that I DO NOT CONDONE drinking and driving!

A little while ago I was at the pub with a couple of friends, we went there for dinner and beers. I was not driving, and I drank quite a few, knowing it wasn't an issue for me. We left the pub a few hours after dinner, staying for some live music and some heated FWD vs RWD, turbo vs NA discussion (I'm not even joking). My friend who was driving had 2 beers after dinner, only 3 of us stayed afterward. So the three of us get into his car, and start driving home, pretty much the ONLY route between a few major restaurants/pubs in Troy back to downtown or up the hill where most students live.
Now I've seen this before, but never been stopped, there was a DUI checkpoint in the street, the two lanes were condensed into one. We were stopped, and my friend who was driving had to blow into a breathalyser. My other friend in the front seat, and I in the back were asked how much we had to drink, flashlights in the face, a little more than cursory asking (which I think should not even matter, correct?). Everything was fine, they told us to have a good night and we left, no problem.

The problem I have with this is, my friend who was driving wasn't bothered in the least by it. Now, I understand that drunk drivers are a serious problem, but does that give the state the right to stop every single person and require a breath test? To me it seems like a breach of privacy, and I was mad enough as the rear seat passenger, if I were in my friend's shoes I would have been livid.
So I'm wondering if it's legal for something like that to go down, or if you have the right to refuse the stop. Has this happened to anyone before? It seems to be a pretty regular thing at that place on friday saturday nights, I've seen it sometimes when I've walked as well. I don't really want an argument on DWI, I think we can all pretty much agree that it's a bad thing.
 

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Driving is a state-licensed privelege, not a right, and I think that police have the right to stop you for anything. In this case it was a roadblock/checkpoint, but if an officer was following you and put on his lights, you would have no right to refuse to stop.

As a passenger you have the right to remain anonymous and you don't have to answer any questions. As a driver I would comply with a request for a breathalyzer, as long as it's a checkpoint that is subject to all drivers on that road. I am also generally willing to provide the registration, license and insurance papers, though you are not legally required to. Anything else I just point out my 4th amendment rights and politely decline.
 

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Ive had this happen. I worked at a bar and frequently(around hollidays) would have to take the test on the way home. Never faled because i worked there. Truith is, its a good plan to help limit drunk driving. If your not drunk, then its just a few minutes out of your life to maybe help save another.
 

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If stopping every single driver on a road helps get a couple drunk ones off of it, I'll be happy to stop. That doesn't mean I'll be pleased at the time, but looking back I won't be bothered by it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Mark I understand what you are saying, and in response to the first thing about how many beers my friend had, it was only for reference to show that I wasn't worried or nervous that the stop could have a bad outcome. I guess I should have been more clear, I wasn't asking if it's illegal, but more like what are the limits. For example, something we have discussed is police asking everyone in the car for ID. This happened to me a while back (last spring I think) and I didn't know that it wasn't required, so I just gave my license when I was a passenger in a car. I was wondering if this kind of thing is like that, where it's allowed to be refused, but for whatever reason, people don't, because they don't know, or because of the way the request is posed.
More so, I am wondering why nobody has a problem with this. I know it's not a lot of time, and I know it's a good way to cut down on DUI. I just worry about things like this, I feel like too many little things just adds up to too much government involvement.
 

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I don't own the road. My lisence is just a temporary permission that I'm granted to make use of this privilege the state provides me.
"They" make up rules, and if I don't want to comply I either leave my car at home, or risk getting fined.

I know this in advance...so I have no excuse getting worked up about this.

I can't go to someone's house, misbehave, and expect to get away with it without getting my ass kicked either. Some things are universal common sense.
 

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im pretty sure in the state of florida they must attempt to warn you in some way.. sort of like how they notify you of a city hearing on your neighbors illegal fense.. they burry the notifications in the depths of new papers and such, how ever here at fsu the facebook is a sure fire way to know exactly when and where the dui check points will be located. But then again this may not be a law at all and rather a nice gesture by the police department, but for some reason I doubt that.
 

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SETI20 said:
I don't own the road. My lisence is just a temporary permission that I'm granted to make use of this privilege the state provides me.
"They" make up rules, and if I don't want to comply I either leave my car at home, or risk getting fined.

I know this in advance...so I have no excuse getting worked up about this.

I can't go to someone's house, misbehave, and expect to get away with it without getting my ass kicked either. Some things are universal common sense.
Funny thing is, who does own the road? Your tax dollars pay to build it, maintain it and pay the salaries of the govt officials who police it. The point of a democratic system is that the people own it and have the ability to control it. So in this sense, i can see where Downest is coming from. I don't mind stopping for a sobriety check either because I dont drive drunk, but sometimes its hard to tell when we are letting the system have to much control. I'm sure there would be no prob having a govt camera in my house since I'm ever really doing anything illegal, but i still don't want one there. Big brother, allow me my freedoms.
 

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After reading all that.

Care to explain "Probable Cause"?

And just asking....

How can there be "probable cause" at a "random" stop?

If I was to find rolling paper, can I search the car for drugs?
 

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I remember in the old days.....

My sister lived in Maryland.

While visiting,

we came upon a sign that read:

"DWI Checkpoint 1/2 Mile ahead"

"U-Turn 500 ft ahead"

Now that's probable cause!
 

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MarkWilliamson said:
Shall we start a Search and Seizure thread?
I think we should because this brings up some questions for me. I was at school and went out to my car in between classes one day. I walked in through the front door and was stopped by The Dean of students. He thought that i was out in my car doing drugs. Now, im a fairly good kid who has stay away from drugs, so i dont know what they smell like, but i can tell you, i didnt smell like it. They asked to sreach my car and sayed that if i refused they would just take my keys and sreach it anyways. I had nothing to hide and let them, and they didnt find anything but it raised the question of, could they still sreach it just because they "thought i was" without any other facts?
 

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I totally agree with the opinions put forth in this ACLU brief. It makes reference to sobriety checkpoints being separate from drug checkpoints (this article concerns the latter) because the were previously ruled an issue of "traffic safety", but I'm of the opinion that both fall under the same 4th amendment protection. Stopping every motorist in hopes of finding someone who has been drinking is a classic case of "the end doesn't justify the means" in that even though you may snag a few lawbreakers, the violation of countless motorists' constitutional rights is itself inexcusable.

The American Civil Liberties Union said:
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court today agreed to review whether police can routinely set up traffic checkpoints with drug-sniffing dogs to stop motorists in a completely random effort to catch people who sell or use illegal drugs.

The case, City of Indianapolis v. Edmond, No. 99-1030, was brought as a class action by the Indiana Civil Liberties Union on behalf of two individuals and the citizens of Indiana, all of whom are subject to the random roadside searches. The case will be argued in the Supreme Court's 2000-2001 term, which begins next October.

"One of the freedoms we take for granted is the ability to drive and not be subject to random searches by police who are seeking evidence of criminal activity," said Kenneth J. Falk, Legal Director of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union and lead counsel in the case. "The Indianapolis policy challenges this freedom."

Under the roadblock policy, all traffic is stopped while drivers' licenses and registrations are checked, drug sniffing dogs are deployed and officers look into cars to determine if there is some probable cause for a further search. If the dogs alert the officers to the possible presence of drugs or if the visual inspection by the officers creates some cause, then a further search would be conducted. If there were no cause for further search discovered, the cars would be allowed to leave the roadblock area.

Falk, who successfully argued the case before a federal appeals court last year, said he believes that the lower court ruling conforms with Supreme Court precedent and that the Justices may be seeking to resolve whether such unconstitutional searches can be "mixed" with searches concerned with traffic safety.

In its 2 to 1 decision, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Illinois found that the purpose of the roadblocks was to investigate potential criminal activity and that the Fourth Amendment requires that criminal investigatory searches and seizures must be based on cause. This distinguished the drug roadblock stops from sobriety checkpoints which have been upheld by the Supreme Court. Sobriety checkpoints are not designed to investigate potential crimes, but are designed to assure traffic safety.

"The issue here is not whether catching drug traffickers is important, but whether our basic constitutional rights can be suspended in pursuit of such a goal," Falk said. "Today it's drugs, tomorrow it's deadbeat parents, and the next day it's parking fines. Where does it end?"

As the ACLU said in its brief, "It is undoubtedly easier to fight the war on drugs if police are given the power, through the ruse of conducting license and registration checks, to stop every car and attempt to determine if there is some cause to search the car and its inhabitants. However, the Fourth Amendment stands as an impediment to efforts of the government which result in the cutting of constitutional corners, even if the government identifies its efforts as being for the public good."
This article, specific to sobriety checkpoints, also makes some solid arguments.

The American Civil Liberties Union said:
PROVIDENCE--The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island today urged Governor Donald Carcieri to reject calls to review a 1989 state Supreme Court ruling, which found that random sobriety roadblocks violate the state constitution's prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures.

"Drunk driving is a very serious problem, and there can be legitimate disagreements over how best to deal with it," said ACLU of Rhode Island Executive Director Steven Brown. "However, many alternatives - most notably the use of roving patrols - exist to try to address the problem of drunk driving in a systematic way, without infringing on fundamental privacy rights."


Today's action comes in response to news that Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch recently asked the governor to seek a Supreme Court advisory opinion revisiting the issue.

The ACLU has long opposed the roadblock practice, which allows law enforcement officers to randomly stop cars and perform driver sobriety checks without any suspicion that the driver is intoxicated. In a letter to Gov. Carcieri, the ACLU's Brown questioned the governor's legal authority to request an advisory opinion in this circumstance, and urged him instead to focus on strategies that do not infringe on privacy rights, such as the expanded use of roving patrols on the highways that would target erratic driving and other behavior that might indicate an intoxicated driver.


The ACLU also referred to a 2002 study of traffic stops in Rhode Island, which found that black and Hispanic drivers are more likely to be stopped and have their cars searched than white drivers, and expressed concern that roadblocks could lead to an increase in racial profiling.

"Even if roadblock protocol ensures that drivers will be pulled over on a strictly random basis, police will have enormous discretion to decide which drivers deserve further scrutiny," Brown said.
 

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So in response to that as well, since the Seat Belt law is fully in effect in South Carolina and else where, couldn't a police officer warrant a search ,at any given time, due to the "probable cause" that the vehicles occupant(s) were not wearing seatbelts and search any vehicle on the road or "in a readily mobile state" :?: (as long as there's occupants that is)
 

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I only asked that because a buddy of mine was driving home late night labor day ( about 1am) and pulled up to a 4 way stop. at which there was a police car at the opposing stop sign and because he drives a 72 chevelle, he has lap seatbelts, the officer then turned around and pulled him over and the officer claimed that he was not wearing his seatbelt and asked to search the vehicle and during the search the officer found a (1) empty beer can in the trunk, the officer gave him the breathelizer, which he passed and then the officer wrote him citations for no seat bealt and an open container. He has a lawyer and is fighting it. It's not that serious but does the selt belt law allow for more viable seaches of "just because he looks like the type..."?
 

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I agree that driving on public roads is a privilege, not a right. However, I DON'T agree that we should have to give up very basic rights when exercising that privilege.

I also don't believe that the ACLU demonizes police officers. Nobody says that police officers are evil because they are doing their job. However, limiting police power is absolutely vital to freedom, and limiting what police can legally do in the course of doing their job isn't a comment on the attitudes of police officers (individually OR collectively), it's a comment on the amount of power that the government should have vs. the Constitutional rights of its citizens. I don't agree with every single thing the ACLU says, but I'd much rather see someone err on the side of caution -- in this case, preserving rights -- because as I've said before, once you give them up, you NEVER get them back.

It's just awfully hard to remind yourself of the wonderful, glorious "freedom" that everyone talks about in this country when you have a cop, drug-sniffing dog at his feet, sticking his nose in your car making sure your papers are in order and everything is on the up-and-up, when your only "crime" was driving down the road (and that's a "minor intrusion"?!). It's really all another case of the war on drugs (and now, to a lesser extent, the war on drunk driving) eroding the rights of everyone in the course of fighting a losing battle. Much like the similar effects of the war on terror, if we "win", what will we have left to enjoy?

Personal rights, liberties, and freedoms are more important than what looks good on the evening news -- a sobriety checkpoint, a random drug bust, whatever.
 
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