Pubdate: Sun, 15 Aug 1999
Source: St. Petersburg Times (FL)
Copyright: 1999 St. Petersburg Times
Author: Stephen Heath


Re: What's this man's sign? Try the Fourth Amendment, by Robyn Blumner, Aug.

To the editor:

Thanks for Robyn Blumner's piece on Texas lawyer Pat Barber and his campaign
to re-educate the public with regard to their rights during a police traffic

I say re-educate, because lately our citizenry has received such education
from insipid television programming, shows that not only exaggerate the
glory of police fighting the useless war on drugs, but also are packed full
of police who routinely violate the rights of free citizens during traffic

As motorists, all we are required to provide the officer with is our valid
license to drive along with proof of proper automotive insurance. In some
cases, proof of the right to operate the vehicle may also be required, and
registration will usually suffice.

Any and all other questions an officer may ask, such as "Where are you
going?" "Where have you been tonight?" "Why are you in this neighborhood?"
etc. are entirely inappropriate and should be answered only if the driver
wishes. Most frequently abused by traffic officers is the request for an
inventory of what is in the vehicle and, of course, the request to search.
Such requests should always be met with a polite refusal as they rarely have
anything to do with traffic safety.

Most police do good work and it is reasonable that free citizens should help
them to enforce safe traffic laws. Surrendering our privacies, however, is
not required, and Robyn Blumner helps remind us of that. -- Stephen Heath,

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