Sunday, March 27, 2005

Your Papers Please!

One thing that's irked me for some time is these drunk driving checkpoints that have become so popular among the police and accepted by the public lately. No, I'm not in favor of people driving while intoxicated. I just don't like the idea of myself, or anyone else, being pulled over without probable cause. What bugs me even more is that so many of the public seem to think it's a great idea.

I was glad to finally see someone is as bothered, if not more bothered, as I am about these stops. Some guy from Conneticutt started the Checkpoint Nullification Project. I don't seem to be quite as emotionally upset as this guy is about checkpoints but it's good to see I'm not the only one who's bothered. But I think my concerns go a little bit deeper than this fellow's.

I remember back in the sixties and seventies, the Highway Patrol used to set up vehicle inspections. They'd be unnanounced and always placed so you'd have no warning and thus couldn't avoid them. Even as a kid it irked me that they could just pull you over like that. Still felt like that years later when I was going through the College of the Redwoods Police Academy in 1984. I remember telling the Traffic instructor I didn't think it was right to pull people over without probable cause.

They ended up doing away with those checkpoints for some reason and I forget how long ago they started up the DUI checkpoints. Seems to me though, those were set up strictly to catch drunk drivers and, while I've never been stopped in one, I got the impression they were pretty much limited to that. Now, mission creep has taken hold: You need to show your driver's license, proof of insurance and I get them impression they're running warrant checks on at least some unfortunates that end up in the checkpoints since the news reports often mention people being arrested for things not related to driving, including warrants. As the courts, and the "people" give the police more and more power and thus more leeway in how and why the police perform checkpoints, it's quite scary, indeed, the state that this country is in and is heading.

As a wise man once said, "Those who forsake Liberty for security, deserve neither...". How can so many people accept these DUI checkpoints?


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