DUI Checkpoints in the US. Do you support them or think they're constitutional?

@Taskr36 (13926)
United States
April 29, 2010 1:17pm CST
I'm asking this because a friend on Facebook said police can't stop you and ask for ID without reason even in Arizona. While according to the constitution, that should be true we all know it isn't. Police constantly set up DUI checkpoints across this country where they stop, interrogate, and test drivers with no reasonable suspicion or probable cause. If people avoid a checkpoint, police may chase and stop them using their avoidance as reasonable suspicion and if someone simply refuses to take a breathalizer at a checkpoint they can be stripped of their license and even arrested and FORCED to submit to an alcohol test in some states. Now I'm against drunk driving, and I think drunk drivers should be dealt with harshly, but not at the expense of the constitution and the 4th amendment. So to my question, do you support DUI checkpoints? Do you think they're constitutional? Do you think it's worth it to "protect" us if it directly violates the constitution?
2 people like this
11 responses
• United States
30 Apr 10
Your friend on Facebook is speaking imprecisely. If you're driving, police can stop you for probably cause and require you to produce your driver's license. Not having it on you in that case is illegal. If you're not driving a vehicle for which you have a license, you are not required to carry identification unless you live in Arizona. DUI checkpoints have been upheld as Constitutional by the SCOTUS since 1990.
1 person likes this
@Taskr36 (13926)
• United States
30 Apr 10
My friend's statement was technically accurate, save for her comment about Arizona where they are basically exempting themselves from the 4th amendment the same way DUI checkpoints to. Reasonable suspicion and probable cause by definition are reason. In the case of DUI checkpoints, there is no reasonable suspicion. The supreme court even acknowledged that in their decision for MICHIGAN DEPT. OF STATE POLICE v. SITZ where both the state supreme court and the state appeals court ruled the DUI checkpoints in violation of the 4th amendment. They basically said it's ok to violate the 4th amendment if the state has a compelling interest just as they ruled in BROWN v. TEXAS. That's judicial activism and just the kind of crap that the constitution was meant to prevent. If the government can violate the constitution any time they claim to have a "compelling interest" than the constitution is meaningless. http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=496&invol=444 http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?navby=case&court=us&vol=443&invol=47
• United States
30 Apr 10
The definition of a "compelling interest" is an interest strong enough to permit the government to do what would otherwise be unconstitutional. The state doesn't simply get to claim there's a compelling interest, a big part of what the Supreme Court rules on is whether an given interest is compelling or not.
1 person likes this
@xfahctor (14126)
• Lancaster, New Hampshire
1 May 10
"The definition of a "compelling interest" is an interest strong enough to permit the government to do what would otherwise be unconstitutional" There is a very glaring fundamental flaw with this reasoning though, the constitution makes no such provision for them to claim "compelling interest".
@Celanith (2334)
• United States
30 Apr 10
I am in favor of these check points; I would rather this than someone get get seriously killed or injured. If you lost someone you love to a drunk driver you would realize there is good reason for it. I did not see you put what the 4th amendment is and that would be helpful in responding to your question. I don't know them by heart without looking it up. I suggest you copy and paste this in paranthisis or quotations so we know can better address this question.
1 person likes this
@xfahctor (14126)
• Lancaster, New Hampshire
1 May 10
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. ~Amendment 4, U.S. constitution Here, now study the rest of it before our country forgets we even have a constitution. http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html
@max1950 (2313)
• United States
29 Apr 10
probable cause is all thats needed to stop a driver, a little swerve to the right or left is all thats needed and anything that will stop an impaired or drunk driver from killing a family or a car full of children im all for. now if your talking about profiling thats another matter in itself. if a checkpoint saves just 1 life it's worth it and if the people being a little inconvenienced dont like it tuff, how would they feel if it were someone in their family getting killed.
1 person likes this
@laglen (19783)
• United States
30 Apr 10
No. After all the violation of rights, they very rarely catch anybody drinking and driving.
@Taskr36 (13926)
• United States
30 Apr 10
I've heard it both ways so it's hard to be sure without investigating every study. Regardless, they should not be violating the constitution first, and finding ways to excuse it later.
1 person likes this
@laglen (19783)
• United States
30 Apr 10
I agree but that seems to be the modus operandi these days
@debrakcarey (19925)
• United States
30 Apr 10
laglen, you ought to read the paper in my town..lol. They catch lots of drunks every weekend here.
1 person likes this
• United States
29 Apr 10
I actually do support DUI checkpoints. Especially because the only time they are set up is during holidays where there tends to be a higher amount of drinking. In everyday life, of course, I wouldn't agree with it then. But when there is a holiday where drinking and driving is much more probable then yes I support it. As for someone being stripped of their ID for not taking a breathalizer test, I agree with it as well. If they really aren't under the influence then there is no reason to deny the test. Plain and simple. Drinking and Driving isn't only illegal but its deadly. I would definitely prefer the police 'protect us' around those times of year when drinking happens more often then to risk myself or someone I care about getting extremely hurt or killed.
• United States
30 Apr 10
Okay, your examples are completely different. I've heard similiar stories and yes in those the cops are wrong. We have a right to say no to a cop checking our cars unless the police officer has probable cause. Such as if a cop pulls someone over and smells pot they have probable cause to search the vehicle. If a cop does not have probable cause and they arrest someone and their car search turns up nothing then the department can get in a lot of trouble. In order for a police officer to search our home and computer they would need a warrant issued by a judge. So a person has every right to tell a police officer they cannot search their home without a warrant. But comparing these situations to a DUI checkpoint doesn't really work. Its not profiling its something everyone goes through. Everyone knows to expect it around a certian time of year and I am glad they do it. There are only 2 reasons someone wouldn't want to go through a checkpoint. Either they are in hurry, in which point if they turn around and get pulled over they can tell the officer and prove to them they are sober by taking the breathalizer. OR they are hiding something.
• United States
30 Apr 10
Okay seriously? Its a DUI checkpoint and happens very few times a year and only when people have the tendency to drink more. I dont think the police are violating any rights and it takes like 2 seconds to take a breathalizer test. I think you need to stop making a big deal out of this. These checkpoints save lives. Sure, the majority that are stopped are probably sober but if hey just catch ONE drunk driver to me that is worth going through the checkpoint. Because getting that one person off the street could multiple lives. Its set up for our safety and its there for a really good reason. You need to get over how they are 'violating' our rights because really they aren't. Around a holiday like New Year's I think they have plenty of reason suspicion that SOMEONE on the road is drinking. Just think about who's life a checkpoint is saving and get over how 'inconvenient it is'.
@spalladino (17927)
• United States
1 May 10
"If a cop does not have probable cause and they arrest someone and their car search turns up nothing then the department can get in a lot of trouble." Phoenix, the cops don't need to arrest you in order to search your car. Sure, you can refuse and they will then describe to you how they will take the interior of your car apart if you force them to waste their time getting a warrant. They can also come up with many different reasons for probable cause which will allow them to get a warrant.
• United States
1 May 10
DUI checkpoints don't work the way they should. The only drunk drivers they'll catch are ones who have no friends. If I just left the bar after drinking Coca-Cola all evening and I see a DUI checkpoint on Government Way, I'm going to call my friend and tell her not to go on Government Way between this street and that street because there's a DUI checkpoint there. She calls John, John calls Marti, Marti calls Frank...next thing you know, no one's going down Government Way. Instead of catching a couple hundred drunk drivers, they catch 10. That's better than none, but not as good as a couple hundred. I wish the cops would set up a burned-out headlight checkpoint. They need one.
@Taskr36 (13926)
• United States
1 May 10
Yeah, about 1% of the people they catch are actually guilty of DUI. They try to hide that by stating "We arrested or cited 500 of the 1200 we stopped. Most of those citations are for things like a burnt-out headlight or someone not wearing a seatbelt.
• United States
1 May 10
In NC (at least until they changed the law so you can't register an uninspected car), most of the people they caught in DUI checkpoints were for expired inspection stickers. I remember two checkpoints clearly...the first one they ever set up in Fayetteville, they PUBLISHED THE LOCATION IN THE PAPER! "Come to this street on this time and see our first DUI checkpoint!" Naturally, no one did. This one I got caught up in (I got waved through...) they decided to put between Restaurant Row, where the bars were, and Fort Bragg. But they put it in a place where you could see it and turn off before you got there. The people who got caught up in it were going toward Restaurant Row. The people going to Bragg didn't go that way. The sad part is, if they would have gone toward Bragg half a mile it would have been in a valley and not visible to the drunks. But they caught lots of expired stickers.
@irishidid (8524)
• United States
29 Apr 10
Funny you should mention checkpoints. We've had those going on in my and surrounding areas lately. They announced when it was going to be too. Some people were still stupid enough to drive drunk even with warning. As someone who spent at least nine months in a body cast as a child because of a drunk driver, I'm not sure how I feel about it.
@Taskr36 (13926)
• United States
30 Apr 10
I totally understand how you feel and it is horrible what happened to you as a child. My concern isn't so much for the drunk drivers, I'm more than happy to see them off the road. It's really an issue of how such a thing can be expanded. This kind of law can be used as precedence to justify the law in Arizona regarding illegal aliens and should that be judged constitutional, it can be used to even further expand violations of the 4th amendment.
@irishidid (8524)
• United States
30 Apr 10
Mind you I was four at the time so my concept of what happened is from a child's viewpoint. I remember it differently than how my older sister does and here is where the question of check points comes in. The drunk that hit me was backing out of his own drive way. I'm not against having to show my identity at a check point any more than I would be against proving whether or not I was intoxicated (I rarely drink and stay home when I do). Do I think it's fair that I have to do this? No, of course not, but I'll do what it takes.
@xfahctor (14126)
• Lancaster, New Hampshire
1 May 10
Since you and most others in this thread pretty much echoed what I think about it, and since I have already commented in a number of other's responses...I will only add my concurence with you. It is unconstitutional, period.
@debrakcarey (19925)
• United States
14 May 10
If it is unconstitutional, the time to have spoken up about it was when they institued licenseure for the vehicles and drivers. Now we have mandatory car insurance. I've always been told that driving was not a RIGHT, but rather a privilege. So, what is it?
@spalladino (17927)
• United States
30 Apr 10
I have always felt that DUI checkpoints were unconstitutional ever since they started setting up half a block from a popular club in my hometown back in the 80's. There is no probable cause when you're stopping every car on the road. It is my understanding that the AZ law does not instruct law enforcement to stop suspected illegals without probable cause...but we all know that a cop can come up with any half baked reason for stopping someone if he/she wants to.
@Taskr36 (13926)
• United States
30 Apr 10
Yeah, cops are famous for their half-baked reasons like your license plate light is out, or "suspect glanced around furtively". One thing I learned in my criminal law and criminal procedure classes is that anytime a cop uses the word "furtively" he's full of it. The reason the DUI stops are a big deal to me is that it gives precedence to "illegal alien stops" if a state ever wants to institute those.
@Destiny007 (5820)
• United States
30 Apr 10
No, I do not support these checkpoints as they violate have no basis in probable cause and really amount to an illegal search. They also have those immigration checkpoints looking for illegals, and some of those are hundreds of miles away from any borders. These things are in violation of our rights and suggest that we are living in a police state where the authorities are now demanding our papers. If something violates the Constitution, then it is not there to protect us, it is there to control us.
@matersfish (6311)
• United States
29 Apr 10
When I first hit the big 2-1 was about the time that my town really started going crazy with their DUI checkpoints. I never supported them. And not because I was a drunk driver. I never drove at all, much less while drinking. But I always thought they were doing it the wrong way. I'm not sure how the checkpoints are set up in other places, but in my town, they would set them up on the main strip at around 11pm, or on the busiest bypass on weekend afternoons, etc. The vast majority of drivers were sober, obviously, but everyone had to drive through and stop. And yeah, if you decided to turn around and skip it, they would chase your azz down with not only the town car, but a K9 unit and immediately let the dog out. I always thought if they wanted to do it, then set up right outside of a bar with a couple of cars and target the places drunk drivers are leaving - make sure you cut down on the actual bad element. They could use just the threat of having a cop car parked near to cut back on drunk driving better than setting up on the drag. Sure, people drink in other places and drive, but randomly stopping people seems a lot more intrusive and definitely more counterproductive than systematically going after drivers likely to be drunk.