A DUI checkpoint conducted in Fresno, CA on Friday night yielded only ten arrests. However, it was successful in stealing 26 vehicles from their unlicensed owners. The total number of vehicles that passed through the checkpoint is unknown but the impound to arrest ratio is 2.5/1. It has me asking, “are DUI checkpoints really about stopping drunk drivers or generating revenue through impound fees and citations?” Police roadblocks are not only reminiscent of WW2 era Germany, or modern day Palestine, but just like the TSA, DUI checkpoints are just an actor in the state’s security theatre.
From the Fresno Bee.
Police arrested 10 people during a DUI saturation patrol in northeast Fresno on Friday night, the Fresno Police Department said.
The operation involved 11 extra officers paid solely through a grant made possible by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and funded through the California Office of Traffic Safety, police said.
Ten people were arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. As a result of people driving without valid licenses, 26 vehicles were impounded during the operation.
DUI checkpoints are seen as necessary by governments, individuals and organizations such as MADD(Mothers Against Drunk Driving). By stopping drunk drivers before an accident occurs, they claim to have made the world a safer place. In reality what they have done, is punish someone who victimized no one.
There are many problems with these types of operations, the first few that come to mind are…
- They can’t prove to have made anyone safer. The driver of the vehicle probably would have made it home safely and without incident. The police are unable to predict what the outcome of his drive will be and by arresting someone whose only crime is being irresponsible, you haven’t kept anyone safe. All you have accomplished is victimizing someone who hasn’t harmed anyone.
- They are expensive and we are forced to pay for them. As stated in the excerpt above, an extra 11 officers were involved in the operation. Their presence was funded by the California Office of Traffic Safety, essentially allocating tax dollars to operations that claim to prevent but fail to produce any actual evidence of safety.
- DUI checkpoints open the door up to fish for other violations to generate revenue with. At these roadblocks DUI arrests are usually not the primary focus of police they are just a bonus. In 2007 Arizona police made more arrest and seizures for other reasons than they did DUIs. As the Fresno Bee states, 26 people had their cars impounded for driving without state permission. Although they too victimized nobody they still are punished for their peaceful actions.
- Operations organized around preventing potential accidents in the future only open opportunities for police to further criminalize behavior that although reckless and irresponsible renders no victim.
- It makes investigating real crimes even harder. Assigning police to checkpoints removes them from stopping or investigation crimes with real victims. When revenue generation becomes the main focus of law enforcement, the resources that could be used to prevent or investigate actual crimes are lessened and often times violent crimes go unsolved.
Don’t think I am defending drunk driving. I already admitted in this article that it is reckless, irresponsible and should not become routine in your daily endeavors. I am however, defending the idea that without a victim there cannot be a crime. The conclusion we should all come to is, we are responsible for our actions regardless of intoxication.
If I lose control and crash into your house sober, I have wronged you. I’m not going to be charged with a crime but I am still expected to cover the repairs, or in some way provide restitution for my actions. However, if the same thing happens when I am under the influence, criminal charges are attached.
Check out this video from the #MACtour where Ademo Freeman helps officer Wes Lambright come to the conclusion that we should all be held accountable for our actions regardless of mindset.
38 States have ruled in favor of sobriety checkpoints. Since It’s easier to name the places that don’t have checkpoints than the places that do. You can use the list provided below to determine if you may be subject to police roadblocks while driving in your city.
- Alaska – No state authority
- Idaho – Illegal under state law
- Iowa – Statute authorizing roadblocks does not permit sobriety checkpoints
- Michigan – Illegal under state constitution
- Minnesota – Illegal under state constitution
- Montana – State law only permits “safety spotchecks”
- Oregon – Illegal under state constitution
- Rhode Island – Illegal by state Supreme Court decision
- Texas – Illegal under state’s interpretation of the U.S. Constitution
- Washington – Illegal by state Supreme Court decision
- Wisconsin – Illegal under state law
- Wyoming – Illegal under interpretation of roadblock statute.
If you live in one of the 38 states that subject you to checkpoints, you should be able to defend yourself if ever selected. Check out this video where Adam Kokesh is stopped at a DUI checkpoint. The officer goes through the “have you had anything to drink?” routine, Adam answers their questions with questions of his own and after a couple of questions the officer sends Kokesh on his way.
Hopefully this article and the videos within are educational and you are now better prepared to protect yourself from unnecessary infringements by police. Remember if you do encounter heavy handed police, the first thing you should do is record the interaction, then you should use the submit tab to share your story with us.