Freedom of Travel Is So 1988

In 1988 the Washington Supreme Court ruled that "sobriety checkpoints" violate a provision of the state constitution that says "no person shall be disturbed in his private affairs, or his home invaded, without authority of law." Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire wants to give them a try anyway, arguing that they might pass muster if they're authorized by a statute that requires Superior Court warrants for specific locations and times. Gregoire also suggests that the unpleasantness of a constitutional challenge could be avoided if Washingtonians would only learn to cooperate with the authorities:

Gregoire on Monday called upon residents to be "team" players in the state's fight to save lives by accepting the proposed incursion on their driving rights, comparing the traffic stops to security checks at airports and courthouses.

"The fact of the matter is it's a different day than it was 20 years ago," she said at a news conference at Lynnwood's Meadowdale High School, where the checkpoint procedures were demonstrated. "It is literally a partnership with every single citizen to make sure our roadways are safe." 

In 1990 the U.S. Supreme Court said stopping motorists at random just to make sure they aren't intoxicated is consistent with the Fourth Amendment's guarantee against "unreasonable searches and seizures" (although police at a checkpoint still need some indication of drunkenness to demand that a driver undergo a breath test). According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which loves this sort of suspicionless traffic stop, 39 states have them. Gregoire should be proud to be in the minority. Instead she's embarrassed that her state clings to the unfashionable idea that police should not stop and detain people for no particular reason. 

[Thanks to Ronald Skinner for the tip.]

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  • Episiarch||

    Why do they even bother calling them "sobriety" checkpoints? They are flat-out checkpoints. If you aren't drunk but they see something completely unrelated to alcohol that raises their suspicions, they'll be IN UR CARZ SURCHIN UR STUFF in a jiffy.

  • Nutter||

    I was stopped at a "sobriety" checkpoint in NYC with a suspended license (normally they arrest you); all I got was "I suggest you get yourself a license sir" and waved on.
    Being a middle-aged middle-class white guy probably helped me.

  • Bingo||

    Who was sitting on the Supreme Court that ruled that as okay? It sure seems to be a miscarriage of justice to me.

  • ed||

    Gregoire on Monday called upon residents to be "team" players

    Remember, kids: There is no "I" in team.

  • ||

    "It is literally a partnership with every single citizen to make sure our roadways are safe."

    Yes, when I'm pulled over without probable cause by a police officer, "partnership" is precisely the word that pops up in my mind.

    For those who think that Democrats are saints when it comes to civil liberties, this article should be a data point to consider.

  • ||

    Based upon this NHTSA report (first PDF link in article body, page 11) about drunk driving deaths comparing 1982 to 2002, Washington dropped 65% per million miles driven. Slightly better than the national average.

  • Bingo||

    Good point prolefeed, it looks like everyone involved has a big D in their title.

  • ||

    Gregoire should buy two drinks. One for herself, and one for the gargantuan mole on her face.

  • ||

    "it's a different day than it was 20 years ago"

    The second best justification for anything. Second to 'for the children'.

  • ||

    "I was stopped at a "sobriety" checkpoint in NYC with a suspended license (normally they arrest you); all I got was "I suggest you get yourself a license sir" and waved on.
    Being a middle-aged middle-class white guy probably helped me."


    Damn straight it did. I love it how liberals are so in love with disparate impacts in every other context but support things like sobriety checkpoints and mandatory seatbelt laws that are nothing but licenses for the cops to fuck with anyone they don't like, which is ussually the poor and minorities.

    Further, isn't there something called a Bivens action? If a government official acts directly contrary to known law, they are subject to personal liability. It may not be a Bivens action, my memory is failing me. But nonetheless, if there is clear and unabiguous law that an action is illegal, a government official loses sovereign immunity and is personally liable. Seems to me that the good governor is setting herself up for some nice liability here.

  • Bingo||

    kohlrabi, you forgot "otherwise the terrorists have already won"

  • javier||

    it's a different day than it was 20 years ago

    drunk driving deaths comparing 1982 to 2002, Washington dropped 65%

    yup it's a lot safer and less need for the checkpoints

  • ||

    Thanks for your concern, but I'd prefer not to be forced by the state into a partnership agreement I don't want.

  • ||

    sage,

    That wasn't so bad. The way you played it up I was expecting something like this.

  • ||

    bah, you, fool, dont you know that driving is a privlege not a right

  • ||

    I lived in WA while the gubernatorial election Gregoire eventually won was being contested- it was like being kicked in the groin every day (well, that and Kirby Wilbur being teh uber suck).

  • ||

    Yes, when I'm pulled over without probable cause by a police officer, "partnership" is precisely the word that pops up in my mind.

    Given the number of news stories lately, the thought in my mind is, "I hope he (or she) is one of the rare ones that believes in the protect/serve motto and not an aggressive asshole with a taser."

    That being said, I remember here in CA, they used to run 'license, registration, and insurance' checkpoints near where I used to live. I wonder if they still do or if some patriot sued and got it shut down.

  • ||

    de stijl, I know, but I take any chance I get to stick it to that twunt.

  • Bagger||

    "The fact of the matter is it's a different day than it was 20 years ago,"

    Can someone explain to me what exactly this is supposed to fucking mean? Hell, the fact of the matter is it's a different day than yesterday. So the fuck what? Is it some vague reference to terrorism?

  • ||

    Jim Bob,

    Wasn't there allegations of pretty massive fraud in that election? I seem to remember her allegations that she as much as stole that election.

  • ||

    Why do they even bother calling them "sobriety" checkpoints? They are flat-out checkpoints.

    I would love to see a Venn diagram of this overlap. People who support this violation of peoples liberties and people who call the Israelis nazis because of West Bank checkpoints.

  • Ventifact||

    they might pass muster if they're authorized by a statute that requires Superior Court warrants for specific locations and times.



    Hey! And we could do the same thing for homes, too! Warrants issued for randomized specific locations (in poor neighborhoods) and times (usually at night). It's nothing personal! It's a partnership with our poor, afflicted as they are by crime and drugs and gangs. Hmm... I'm thinking about how to serve these warrants... we might need some real firepower in case there are babies present...

  • LibertyPlease||

    Who was sitting on the Supreme Court that ruled that as okay? It sure seems to be a miscarriage of justice to me.



    That's more like an abortion. Fully in the know, killin' it.

  • Episiarch||

    Don't be a fool, J sub D. Everyone knows that stopping people from blowing up pizza restaurants is chump change compared to the dangers of drunk driving. Just ask MADD.

    In fact, some pizza restaurants actually let people drink there and they might drive home with some alcohol in their system. MADD probably supports the actions of suicide bombers (as long as they are attacking places that serve alcohol).

  • ||

    Wasn't there allegations of pretty massive fraud in that election? I seem to remember her allegations that she as much as stole that election.

    Hey, it's a party tradition.

  • Steve Verdon||

    Remember, kids: There is no "I" in team.

    But there is is pie, as in meat pie...the anagram of meat is team....I don't know....

  • ||

    Wasn't there allegations of pretty massive fraud in that election? I seem to remember her allegations that she as much as stole that election.

    It a Rorschach. If you're Team Red, then "absolutely!" If you're Team Blue then "No way!"

  • ||

    """Gregoire also suggests that the unpleasantness of a constitutional challenge could be avoided if Washingtonians would only learn to cooperate with the authorities:"""

    There ya go, the fight to keep your constitutional rights is unpleasant. I wonder how many in WA agrees?

  • Vent||

    It's amazing that the Governor is arguing in favor of the law not because it's unconstitutional, but because we should be able to overlook the fact that it's not unconstitutional. Then again, it's actually part of a pretty reliable pattern...

  • Vent||

    "not unconstitutional" = "not constitutional"

  • ||

    I know, but I take any chance I get to stick it to that twunt.

    I looked at the photo, I would never consider "sticking it to" Governor Gregoire.

  • ||

    This reminds me of something else. Many of the very same people who claim that having to produce an ID to vote is an onerous restriction on a fundemental right, see no problem with a person's right to move as the please being restricted by having cops stop you for no reason to check to see if you are drunk. If a cop so much as pulls up to a polling place, everyone who sees him has been disenfranchised!! Of course it is perfectly okay and no violation of anyone's rights if that same cop stops everyone and harrasses them on the way home from work the next day.

  • ||

    """"they might pass muster if they're authorized by a statute that requires Superior Court warrants for specific locations and times.""""

    How would that work? What does it mean by specific location. Cross streets? Such as we have a warrant to search at 3rd and Main? The glove box in your car? Sounds lilke Gregoire doesn't have a clue.

  • ||

    I love it how liberals are so in love with disparate impacts in every other context but support things like sobriety checkpoints and mandatory seatbelt laws that are nothing but licenses for the cops to fuck with anyone they don't like, which is ussually the poor and minorities.

    But, but, but ... our intentions are good? Yeah, that's the ticket. At least we're trying to do something. IT'S NOT OUR FAULT!!!

  • ||

    Remember kids, be a "team player" and rat out your parents for smoking pot!
    Be a "team player" and go through your neighbor's garbage to look for evidence of illegal stock trades!
    Be a "team player" and report any suspicious touching to the Department of Family Services!
    Be a "team player" and watch your fucking liberties go up in flames!

  • ||

    "The fact of the matter is it's a different day than it was 20 years ago," she said at a news conference at Lynnwood's Meadowdale High School, where the checkpoint procedures were demonstrated. "It is literally a partnership with every single citizen to make sure our roadways are safe."

    Motherfucking dumb bitch. I literally died when I read this.

  • Gray Ghost||

    From John: If a government official acts directly contrary to known law, they are subject to personal liability. It may not be a Bivens action, my memory is failing me. But nonetheless, if there is clear and unabiguous law that an action is illegal, a government official loses sovereign immunity and is personally liable.

    Isn't that a 2201/2202 action stemming from Ex Parte Young?

    The case that comes to mind regarding checkpoints for cars/drivers is Michigan Dept. of St. Police v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444. Basically it ruled that checkpoints were seizures under the 4th Amend, but that drunk drivers were teh evil and the states' necessity to stop them trumped the "limited intrusion" to you.

    City of Indianapolis v Edmond, 531 U.S. 32 agreed, but stated that drug interdiction wasn't as good a reason, and therefore checkpoints based on stopping dope didn't pass Constitutional muster. In all cases, "administrative purposes" (to see if your license, registration, state inspection sticker were all in order) were perfectly valid reasons to stop motorists. Both cases go through a list of hoops the state must jump through in order to for the checkpoints to be o.k.

    I think the cases are very poor reasoning, consequentialist jurisprudence at its worst. They are a significant step towards having to show papers to the state in order to travel freely.

    Agree with John that, in practice, this is just another tool that police use to mess with people. I also think you can add this to the excellent list SugarFree compiled recently of paternalistic legislation and the slippery slope: e.g. seat belt laws, smoking prohibitions, bans on trans fats.

  • ||

    Boy, I'm beginning to hate this state. Reason magazine reported on a small Seattle garbage collection company getting a contract over their larger competitors because one of the things they want to go is use cameras to verify the city's compulsory recycling laws are being followed.

    Prepare, folks. The revolution cometh.

  • ||

    want to go = want to do. That is all.

  • ||

    """They are a significant step towards having to show papers to the state in order to travel freely."""

    The problem is where in the Constitution does it ban having to show papers to travel? It's akin to gun registration. You have a contituional right but that right doesn't prevent the government from requiring you to register to exercise that right.

    Huge electronic databases were beyond the founding fathers. Anyone know anything in the federalist papers with opinions about registrations?

  • LibertyPlease||

    The problem is where in the Constitution does it ban having to show papers to travel? It's akin to gun registration. You have a contituional right but that right doesn't prevent the government from requiring you to register to exercise that right.



    Registration necessarily infringes the right. What is registration for if not to approve/deny or track for future revocation?

  • Eric Hanneken||

    I was stopped at a checkpoint once. The first police officer I encountered asked, pointing to a spot where other officers were taking licenses and peering into cars, "Would you like to pull your vehicle over there?"

    Shocked by the choice implied in the question, I said "No."

    "Too bad," he said. "You're going to."

    Why did he ask, then?

  • ||

    """Registration necessarily infringes the right. What is registration for if not to approve/deny or track for future revocation?"""

    I'm not going to disagree with you. But try to telling it SCOTUS.

  • ||

    Having grown up there and having seen so many friends get sucked into the social/penal fly trap I have to say I hate Washington. It's the perfect mix of maternal liberal douche bags and paternal religious nuts. And unlike many other states with the same mix I think they're economically successful enough to be able support stupid ideas like this.

    I still have hope for Oregon though.

  • a concerned washingtonian||

    Look, you people are so worried about not being hassled on the way to your cocktail party that you don't even care that thousands of people are being killed on the roads - probably by people like you on the way home after a few too many martinis and a few too many lines. A minor inconvenience like having to stop is nothing compared to how things should be if we were actually concerned about other people and the planet. It's ridiculous that people are allowed to drive for any trivial reason they want when the damage done to thousands of lives and the earth is so obvious. That is precisely why driving should be much more strictly regulated, akin to prescription drugs that kill far less people than driving after all. That's not to say I'm completely against driving since some driving is for a valid and necessary purpose. For example, it would make sense to allow people to drive to work and an occasional vacation (as a reward perhaps for a clean driving record). Ideally they could apply for a permit which would specify the routes they are allowed to drive (e.g. work M-F, store on the weekend, to the coast and back at the end of the month, etc) and how many miles they're allowed. Then this would all be programmed into the police database. That would allow police with those new automatic license plate reading cameras, which can scan 5 or 6 lanes of traffic at once, to easily check to make sure that every car on the road is on the prescribed route and at the prescribed time. Eventually, cars could have an easily downloadable program from a cell tower or whatever which would tell its computer when and where it is allowed to be driven and any attempt to operate it outside of the acceptable times would automatically alert the police and shut down the car. Imagine the benefits! This plan would virtually wipe out drunk driving and could easily save almost all of the 40,000 people killed by cars a year. Beyond that, it would save vast amounts of energy while drastically reducing greenhouse gasses. It's SO MUCH better for society on SO MANY fronts and nobody is really hurt at all since everyone is still allowed to drive to all the things they really NEED to drive to! It's so obvious that I can't believe we haven't done something like this yet. If we have to have prescriptions to get medicines that are far less dangerous than driving I don't see why we can't have a similar "prescription" plan for when and where you can drive.

  • ||

    I'm not sure how protecting someone from drunk drivers should have greater mandate than protecting all U.S. citizen from tyrany.

  • ||

    a concerned washingtonian,

    It would be even better if the government owned all the cars and they were distributed to worthy citizens based upon their fealty to the Party.

  • ||

    John | January 10, 2008, 3:11pm | #
    I love it how liberals are so in love with disparate impacts in every other context but support things like sobriety checkpoints and mandatory seatbelt laws that are nothing but licenses for the cops to fuck with anyone they don't like, which is ussually the poor and minorities.


    Aaaah, yes. The "liberal" hate continues.
    John, I present you this link to the Alaska Republican's Webpage touting the passage of our "Primary Seat Belt Law".
    When you tell me how an "intellectual" helped pass this your mission will be complete.

  • lunchstealer||

    comparing the traffic stops to security checks at airports and courthouses.

    Christ. The last thing I want is to give Officer Dangle leave to rummage through my car, confiscating my fucking nail clippers and making me toss out that bottle of Rain-Ex because it's over 3 ounces or not in a clear plastic baggie.

  • ||

    a concerned washingtonian - The scary part is I'm *mostly* convinced you're being satirical; but having spent some time in Seattle and Port Townsend, only mostly...
    -K

  • Episiarch||

    a concerned washingtonian, you are a brilliant satirist. Or a complete loon. Either way, good luck.

  • ||

    A concerned washingtonian: Who decides where I really need to drive to? You? My Local Party Precinct Warden? Der Furher?

  • a concerned washingtonian||

    It would be even better if the government owned all the cars

    You're right. I didn't think of that, but that would be even better. It would make it easier to equip them all with the necessary computers, and by allowing all cars to be exactly the same, it would drastically cut down on maintenance costs and the cost of replacement parts, etc. Beyond that, having everyone driving the same kind of car would greatly increase equality since you wouldn't have poor people being embarrassed by driving an old beater while some arrogant rich guy flies by in his gas-guzzling Mercedes. Perhaps instead of just one model there could be, I suppose, two or three of increasing quality so as to provide an incentive to maintain a good driving record, or maybe as a reward for other civic-mindedness.

  • ||

    Well played, a concerned washingtonian, well played.

  • ||

    Jim Bob,

    Wasn't there allegations of pretty massive fraud in that election? I seem to remember her allegations that she as much as stole that election.


    John,

    Sorry it took me a while to respond (traffic, ugh). As far as I remember, the answer to your question is yes. There was nasty, vicious fighting between Dems and Repubicans during that whole thing, and accusations being thrown around about everyone and everything involved in the whole process on both sides. It was a mess and it was ugly.

  • ||

    Having lived a total of a dozen years of my life in Washington state, I find "a concerned washingtonian's" satire a bit too close to reality to be amusing.

  • ||

    Wasn't there allegations of pretty massive fraud in that election? I seem to remember her allegations that she as much as stole that election.

    IIRC, the Republican candidate won the first counting, and then some a batch of disproportionately Democratic ballots were allegedly found, but the Republican still won the next recount or two, and then yet another batch of ballots were allegedly found from a heavily Democratic district of the state that narrowly put Gregoire over.

    I didn't see the discovered ballots in question, so I don't know if they were real ballots cast on election day or electoral fraud, but I was just in Washington state and some people I talked with there are still bitter about this -- much like some Democrats are still bitter about 2000 (and some even about 2004).

  • ||

    I still have hope for Oregon though.

    Oregon is Washington minus 10 tens of "progress". Ten years from now Oregon will be Washington now.

  • .||

    Aaaah, yes. The "liberal" hate continues.
    John, I present you this link to the Alaska Republican's Webpage touting the passage of our "Primary Seat Belt Law".
    When you tell me how an "intellectual" helped pass this your mission will be complete.


    Clearly that is the Alaska Democrats posing as the Alaska Republicans.

  • Ventifact||

    But, Oregon is friendly to weed and suicide, and insodoing is arguing in favor of states' rights. That's worth something, no?

  • ||

    prolefeed


    . . . and we'll be fucking Britain, nanny state central

  • ||

    I hate my fucking governor...luckily she is up for election this year and I can give her competitor money and convince everyone how much she sucks.

  • ||

    If the motive is to stop drunk drivers the "check points" should be in the parking lots of popular bars and restaurants. As they are not it must be assumed that the motive is not.

  • ||

    I live in Washington and let me tell you all, a concerned washingtonian is an asshole.

  • Paul||

    Gregoire on Monday called upon residents to be "team" players in the state's fight to save lives by accepting the proposed incursion on their driving rights, comparing the traffic stops to security checks at airports and courthouses.

    I wouldn't have beaten her up, if she'd have just relaxed and enjoyed it.

  • Paul||

    I live in Washington and let me tell you all, a concerned washingtonian is an asshole.

    You said it, brother.

    A concerned Seattlite? Even worse.

  • Paul||

    Oh, and if they have dogs with them, they're looking for drugs, too. "Sobriety checkpoint" is just the mask of "legitimacy".

    There was a time, recently, that I'd be "difficult" at these checkpoints, demand to see warrants, refuse to answer any questions not related to my level of drunkenness, but now I'd fear they'd identify me as a "self-proclaimed constitutionalist", and thus die in a hail of lead.

  • economist||

    concerned washingtonian
    I disagree almost entirely with you. On most of it, I can't even begin to say how much your idea sucks. However, I felt your comment on the environmental impact of driving at least deserved a response. I agree that it is possible that driving has an environmental impact on people besides those who drive due to pollution. However, the way to deal with this spillover cost is not to give the government the power to control the nation's most ubiquitous form of transportation, but simply to internalize the costs imposed on others. That is, have a tax on effluent emissions that overall covers the economic costs imposed by pollution, and distribute the revenues to those who bear the costs. That way, driving would simply be a question of whether one is willing and able to bear all the costs of it, rather than how much the government thinks someone "needs" to drive.

  • economist||

    I just noticed cw's response to de stijl's comment on the government owning all cars, and I really think he must be a satirist. At least I hope that there is no one THAT insane. By ignoring the benefits of competition in creating better cars that better fit the individuals needs/wants of those who buy them, he (jokingly?) displays a level of ignorance rivaling MCW, James, and Joe. If he really wants a car standardized by a government, he should buy a Yugo.

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