Pubdate: Tue, 30 Dec 2003
Source: Florida Today (Melbourne, FL)
Copyright: 2003 Florida Today
Author: Kyle Crooks


Florida Today's recent article announcing a planned DUI checkpoint has me 
concerned about how our police's ability to stop random vehicles for 
"safety defects" and for suspicion of "driving under the influence" of 
drugs or drink may infringe upon our personal freedoms.

Although some may argue that our government, in the name of the people, 
owns the streets and as such they can control whom, when, and how people 
are allowed to use them, it occurs to me that the government owns many things.

This list includes sidewalks, office buildings, and parks. Does this mean 
that you could be stopped while walking to the grocery store to see if you 
have illegal drugs on you?

Could they still search you even if you gave no reasonable indication that 
you might have drugs?

And if you have legal drugs on your possession, should you have to carry a 
copy of your doctor's prescription with you?

If this seems like too big a leap from simple DUI checkpoints, a quick 
check of the Internet brings up dozens of examples of how DUI checkpoints 
across the country have resulted in the police looking for more things 
during these stops.

For instance, in Ohio, similar checkpoints, touted as "Make Ohio DUI- 
Safe," have escalated over a few years into a multi-jurisdictional 
Pandora's box of random vehicle searches that include driver's license 
checks, registration checks, safety inspections, insurance checks and 
inspection of the car's contents.

Any of these could end up with you in a police car and your car on a tow 
truck that you will pay for later.

In some Southwestern states, these DUI stops have grown to include a "show 
me your papers" check to prove you are not an illegal immigrant.

My problem is that these stops are, in my view, unreasonable searches not 
based on probable cause and are thus forbidden by the Fourth Amendment to 
the Constitution.

Kyle Crooks, Melbourne
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