The following article, originally posted at WBUR.org, was submitted by Joe.
A deputy police chief in South Texas wants to set up “permanent” DWI checkpoints in order to “save lives,” raising the possibility that Texans could be forced to show their papers, submit to breathalyzer tests, or even be mandated to have blood drawn whenever they drive down the street.
“The San Antonio Express-News reports Trevino urged legislators to allow law officers to stop drivers and do routine sobriety tests near so-called drinking-and-driving “hot spots.” He says local data could be used to identify areas where such behavior is prevalent.”
Jim Harrington of the Texas Civil Rights Project opposed the idea, saying sobriety checkpoints allow for police abuse of power. The measure is expected to be debated by legislators in January.
The notion of permanent DWI checkpoints where police can pull over any vehicle at any time under the justification of catching drunk drivers is anathema to the 4th Amendment, which protects “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.”
Given the fact that San Antonio is one of a number of cities across the country which enforces “no refusal” blood-draws against people police suspect of driving under the influence, Texans could find themselves with a needle stuck in their arm simply for exercising their right to mobility.
Attorney Jamie Balagia has described the blood-draw controversy as a “ridiculous trampling of our Constitution,” labeling it “un-American”.
Although America is referred to as the “land of the free,” it is increasingly being littered with checkpoints that are remolding the country into something more akin to the Soviet Union than a bastion of liberty.
The ACLU has dubbed a 100-mile area in-land from the border as the “Constitution-free Zone,” noting that 2 out of 3 Americans live within this buffer zone – around 190 million people in total. Americans in these areas are forced to answer questions when they drive through Border Patrol checkpoints. Many are standing up for their 4th amendment rights by refusing to answer such questions.