Do You Think Night Time Seatbelt Patrols are constitutional?

@beckish (635)
United States
May 30, 2009 10:22am CST
Last weekend here in Washington State they conducted what they called "night time seatbelt patrols" - meaning they were able to pull anyone over they wanted to - for no reason - other than to supposedly check if they had their seatbelt on. And then of course once a person is pulled over they would check for any illegal behavior and ask for identification. I find this an appalling violation of our constitutional rights. We are supposed to be living in a free country - yet this is reminiscent of a communist country where you are asked for "your papers" at any time the government chooses to do so. Night time seatbelt patrols seem an awful lot like "illegal search". I always wear my seatbelt and I don't engage in illegal behavior - but I don't think I should have to be subjected to a traffic stop - just to see if I have my seatbelt on. My time is valuable to me. With this type of governmental behavior going on, a person could have to leave home much earlier if they are going somewhere - just in case they get detained along the way to see if they have their seatbelt on? Please. Your thoughts?
10 responses
@dreamr802 (986)
• United States
31 May 09
I think it is unfair to stop people randomly to see if they have their seatbelts. It wouldn't be so bad if they stopped you, if they saw you had a seatbelt on just let you go and not ask for your ID or anything like that. It really does sound like illegal search. I know in Florida they can stop you anytime for anything.
@winman (235)
• United States
31 May 09
Yea i used to live in Florida, and i remember i was stopped on my way to school and they did a complete search of my vehicle due to recent break-ins near the area and they where searching allot of cars that day. I missed 1st period but its better to just say yes and allow them if you got nothing to hide, since if you do fight they could just impound your car and hold it till they get a search warrant =).
@Taskr36 (13923)
• United States
31 May 09
Winman when you do that you are giving up your rights. If you want to keep your rights you need to exercise them and not allow law enforcement to trample them. Some people think it's just easier to let themselves get abused. I had a cop pull me over just because he saw me enter a neighborhood and immediately make a U-turn and leave (I'd made a wrong turn). I didn't object to being pulled over because he might have thought I saw him and fled giving him reasonable suspicion, but when he asked if he could look in my trunk I said "No". He asked why and I told him because there was no probable cause to search my vehicle. He'd already ran my license plate and checked my driver's license. He pestered me a bit asking me what I was hiding and eventually let me go. Some cops might be jerks and try to bully people, but the law is the law.
@jb78000 (15163)
31 May 09
clearly the police force has too much time on its hands. Perhaps you should commit some crimes to give them something to do.
@spalladino (17921)
• United States
30 May 09
Here in Florida you can be pulled over for not wearing your seatbelt and it's pretty easy with the shoulder straps for an officer to see that you're not buckled up. Since it's the law, imo, they have as much right to pull you over for that as they do if they catch you speeding. What I don't like are the sobriety checkpoints where every vehicle passing a particular spot is stopped. These cause traffic to be delayed and I've never seen any statistics that indicate that a large number of drunk drivers are taken off the roads as a result. In fact, I've noticed over the years that word gets out to the bars and clubs informing patrons where the checkpoints are so they take an alternate route home. Meanwhile, innocent drivers are subjected to these stops more often than not.
@Taskr36 (13923)
• United States
30 May 09
"I've never seen any statistics that indicate that a large number of drunk drivers are taken off the roads as a result" To me such statistics would be irrelevant because it's an illegal search and seizure plain and simple. Police need reasonable suspicion to stop you. If you aren't breaking the law or driving erratically, there is no such suspicion. I'm amazed that higher courts haven't ruled them unconstitutional yet.
@spalladino (17921)
• United States
30 May 09
I'm surprised, too, considering it's been going on for years. I can remember the local cops setting up a block from a club my ex and I used to go to back in the mid 1970's. We'd all cut through the parking lot of the motel behind the bar and take a different route home.
@xfahctor (14126)
• Lancaster, New Hampshire
30 May 09
U.S. constitution; Amendment 4 - Search and Seizure. [i] "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."
@Taskr36 (13923)
• United States
30 May 09
I think it's sad that some of the respondents are completely unaware of one of our most basic rights. Sometimes I feel like posting the full text of amendment because anyone should be able to read it and understand.
@Kenorv (344)
• United States
30 May 09
Of course it's legal and not unconstitutional. You're driving on public property and thus if it's illegal to not have your seat belt on then the police have every right to do seat belt checks just like they have every right to do DUI checks on public property. The rights that you're talking about only apply on private property.
@Taskr36 (13923)
• United States
30 May 09
I don't think you understand the law very well at all. It's actually the complete opposite of what you are saying. If you are on private property, the owners of such property would have the right to conduct searches as a condition of being there. On public property police require reasonable suspicion and/or probable cause. That's the law and conducting any stop and search without that is unconstitutional and violates the fourth amendment.
• China
31 May 09
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• United States
31 May 09
I am totally with you! I never wear my seatbelt, and it urkes me that the law wants to control what is best for me. What more will they be able to control in our personal lives if we let them get away with that! There should be a protest!
@kprofgames (3099)
• United States
30 May 09
No that isn't right. Unless there is a 'reason' to stop a person they can't just pull you over. It's another right that's being taken away. They might sugar coat it, make it sound like they're 'watching' out for us all, but the heart of it is they are taking more and more of our basic rights away. I think people need to wake up.
@Taskr36 (13923)
• United States
30 May 09
The way you've described them, no, they are not constitutional. A police officer can not stop you unless he has reasonable suspicion that you are breaking the law. If, on the other hand, an officer sees that you are not wearing a seatbelt and THEN stops you, that's just fine. Much like the stupid drunk driving checkpoints, it's unconstitutional and a violation of the fourth amendment for them to stop you just to see if they can catch you breaking the law.
@amybrezik (2120)
• United States
30 May 09
I don't think that is fair at all, and makes the government way to powerful. As the years go by things like this continue to come up and it seems our freedoms are slowly being taken away. I myself don't think it shouldbe illegal to ride without a seatbelt (with the exception of children) While I realize the benefits of wearing a seatbelt, if a peron chooses to endanger themselves that is their choice. The governemet should be involved when people endanger other people, not themselves.
@maezee (39821)
• United States
30 May 09
This is totally unfair, and it's definitely crossing that "unconstitutional" threshhold. Not that cops can't do whatever they want ANYWAY - but this really gives them an excuse to abuse their power & pull people with absolutely no probable cause. And the sad part is that you know legislation - or whoever put the Washington State up to this - has an agenda. It's not that they're actually concerned that we're not wearing our seat belts. And I'm curious to see how some of these "night time seatbelt patrols" go down. Do people get pulled over by the cop - with the conventional sirens & lights? Because if so..Not only is that extremely scary for the driver (especially when it's at night time!) but also EXTREMELY humiliating - could you imagine being pulled over when you did absolutely nothing wrong? This is just ludacris.