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Safety Checkpoints: Guilty Until Proven Innocent?

Arnold resident Bob Hohmeier asks what happened to our Fourth Amendment rights that supposedly protect us against illegal “searches” without “probable cause?"

The following letter to the editor was submitted by Arnold resident Bob Hohmeier.

How would you feel, while driving down the road, not violating any traffic laws, if you got pulled over, just because the “law enforcement officer” wanted to see if he could find a violation? Well, folks, this is happening all over our cities today. They used to be called “sobriety check points”, but now are using an even more “politically correct” term and calling them “safety check points.”

See related stories: 

  • St. Louis County Police Conducting Sobriety Checkpoints This Month
  • DWI Arrests Made by Arnold Police During Safety Checkpoint

Seems before we are even allowed to drive on the road and violate any laws, we experience some of those “safety checks.” We are subjected to a test in order to have the privilege of driving - our vehicle has to be deemed “safe” through an “inspection” to register our plates with the state so the government can ensure we have proper insurance, are caught up with our taxes and other paper work is in order.

But that's not enough. On almost any given weekend, we are subjected to the check points where innocent drivers are being harassed and harangued by those charged with enforcing the law. I can understand stopping a speeder, or one that’s weaving and doesn’t appear to be in control of his vehicle. But you and I, on our trips to Grandma's or the store or back home after a night of shopping for the loved ones, should NOT be subject to a safety check point so the police can “look” for some sort of violation of the law they had no reasonable suspicion of prior.

I seem to recall learning of that sort of thing in my history class, but it was in reference to the Gestapo in Nazi, Germany. It was even frequently the butt of jokes or used in the movies. We all recall hearing that guard, upon stopping the vehicle, “your papers please.” So, I ask you, how is our current system any different?

Today, you come across one of these check points, you’re stopped, the officer asks where you’re coming from and where you’re going, asks to see your license and insurance card, and meanwhile, is scanning the interior of your car with his flashlight. Why do we tolerate this?

What happened to the Fourth Amendment to our Constitution? The one that supposedly protects us against illegal “searches” without “probable cause?” Our country’s founders believed freedom of travel was a such an obvious rightful liberty, they didn’t even enumerate it. How far we have fallen?

We need to wake up and work to restore freedoms lost and stop the encroachments on our liberties! We need to elect people, from the local level up, who believe in constitutionally limited government. We need to look at history and see where we are repeating past mistakes so we are not doomed to fall into the same despotism we once defeated!

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Sargesgiftshop.com December 10, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Bob, I agree with you 100%. But I believe the Supremes have given their blessing on this type of activity. If I'm wrong, hopefully, feel free to correct me.
S Ashbrook December 10, 2012 at 05:45 PM
agreed.
Matt Hay December 10, 2012 at 07:54 PM
SCOTUS got it wrong in Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz. Blame Rehnquest for it, as Rehnquest decided that compelling community interest could be weighed against an inalienable right, thus making it a privilege and not a right. However, it should be noted that in Sitz, there was Checkpoint Advisory Council setup prior to the creation of the checkpoint (to basically justify a compelling interest), and that the court also said that strict Constitutional Safeguards must be put in place for these to be legal, though did not define what these are. That said, I believe under Sitz really only the initial investigation and if reasonable suspicion are authorized. Constitutionally, one may still invoke their 5th Amendment right. I do not like them as much as you do, and think Sitz was wrongly decided, but want to caution you against allowing the camel's nose under the tent in blindly accepting that checkpoints beyond those in Sitz are lawful. That is what they want you to do. The decision was pretty narrow, and I do not read to have provided the latitude for general "Safety Checks" in fact, the Majority Opinion centered on compelling interest. While Sweeney would probably try, I am not sure a compelling interest argument could be made in wearing a seatbelt, or even that one has a valid license and no warrants. Many are way too accepting in handing their rights over.
Timber December 13, 2012 at 05:46 AM
http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/810999.pdf "These ESTIMATES are based on data from NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). Unfortunately, known blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test results are NOT AVAILABLE for all drivers and nonoccupants involved in fatal crashes. MISSING DATA can result for a number of reasons, the most frequent of which is that people are not always tested for alcohol. To address the missing data issue, NHTSA has developed and employs a statistical model to ESTIMATE the likelihood that a fatal-crash-involved driver or nonoccupant was sober, had some alcohol, or was intoxicated at the time of the crash. The statistical model was developed using all available known data in the aggregate (that is, at the national level) and applied to each individual driver and nonoccupant with an UNKNOWN BAC TEST RESULT. The estimates presented include a mix of both known and estimated BACs." ================================================ My comments: these guesses and estimates from their statistical model are being used as facts, but in reality these are nothing more than LIES substituting as facts. The part stated as, UNKNOWN BAC TEST RESULT, are nothing more then conjecture because those that were NOT tested could never be viewed as a BAC TEST RESULT ever. An omission is a nullity. Basically a portion of the resulting 'test results' are bullshit fabricated LIES MASQUERADING AS THE TRUTH.

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