Saturday, December 22, 2007

Sobriety Checkpoints

I've noticed that, at least for awhile, Suffolk County Police have engaged in the practice of putting up sobriety checkpoints on busy streets, usually on the weekends. Last week, it kind of hit home when my brother told me that he'd come across one on Route 112 on his way to work. Like probably like most people, he looked on it as a mild inconvenience. They were just an obstacle to pass on the way to work, or the way home.

It'll never cease to amaze me how indifferent we are towards maintaining and preserving our most basic freedoms. It's like most of us were asleep when they taught us about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in school. I think I remember being taught that, I wouldn't be surprised if they stopped teaching it to the current generation of children and teenagers in school. When he told me what'd happened, I immediately thought of the Fourth Amendment (which prohibits the government from unlawful search and seizure) and probable cause. The police can't just lean into your vehicle and ask you "have you been drinking?" (or any other question, for that matter), without having probable cause. In other words, having a reasonable standard; such as you driving erratically all over the road. Simply making a police checkpoint and asking every driver, or even every other, or every tenth driver whether they'd been drinking makes the Fourth Amendment pretty worthless, IMO.

Shortly after finding out about this, I went to that most valued of sites, Wikipedia, and found the entry on sobriety checkpoints. I found out that eleven states have banned the use of sobriety checkpoints by law enforcement. Unfortunately, New York isn't one of those eleven. But far worse, I then read that in 1990, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that sobriety checkpoints are Constitutional. Reinquist, the Chief Justice, said that the state interest in reducing drunk driving justified a major breach of the Fourth Amendment. For anyone who thinks that the USSC started to go downhill with the Bush V. Gore decision, think again and look back to this decision. When looking at the Supreme Court, I'm reminded of Emperor Palpatine and the Sith. Powerful, arrogant people who use their ideology for ends that lead to unrecoverable damage to our freedoms, and like the Emperor and the Sith (at least from midway through Episode III to Episode IV) , totally unaccountable.

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