What Police Checkpoints Can Teach Us About Privacy Invasion

Mike Feuer, city attorney for Los Angeles, California, wants more police checkpoints to limit the number of drivers impaired by substances other than alcohol.

Feuer spoke to the press, explaining the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) plan to orally swab local residents to check for marijuana, cocaine and other drugs.

On stage with the city attorney was a representative from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

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Feuer said: “Traditionally, our office has focused on drunken driving case. We’re expanding drug collection and aggressively enforcing all impaired-driving laws.”

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Michelle DeCasas, deputy city attorney, said : “State law requires drivers suspected of driving under the influence to submit to a blood test but they have the right to refuse the swab. The oral test is voluntary. We are seeking to have it introduced as an evidential piece in our prosecutions of DUI (cases). But at this point, if drivers elect not to do it, it’s their right not to.”

Drivers arrested under suspicion of being intoxicated will be forced to submit to a blood test. However, to perfect their evidence collecting skills, officers will be outfitted with an 8 minute, portable oral fluids test that is being touted as more effective in drugged-driving screens.

The test determines levels of:

• Cocaine
• Benzodiazepine (Xanax)
• Methamphetamine
• Amphetamines
• Narcotic analgesics
• Methadone

Check points will be set up in:

• El Monte
• Hawthorne
• Pasadena
• San Gabriel
• Crenshaw
• Industry
• San Fernando Valley
• Arcadia
• San Gabriel
• Whittier
• Downtown L.A.
• Hollywood
• Northridge
• Redondo Beach
• South L.A.
• The West Valley

In the state of Washington, legislatures were debating a month ago on whether or not to institute random checkpoints for sobriety across the state.

Washington State Representative Roger Goodman commented: “The drumbeat is getting louder. We’ve made a lot of progress in enacting DUI laws, but there’s one missing piece and that’s the sobriety checkpoints, which have been shown to reduce deaths by 25 to 30 percent in other states that have them.”

Amy Ezzo, program and fund development manager for MADD, support Goodman.

Ezzo said: “It shows them that we care, that we’re trying to take whatever steps necessary to ensure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else in the future. It can happen to any of us.”

Ezzo asked: “What are we willing to give up for our civil liberties? Are we willing to give up the life of a loved one? A neighbor, our favorite barista? Someone that we care about?”

While stopping residents and testing them for drug and alcohol use, police and city prosecutors might as well consider eating while driving more dangerous than being intoxicated or talking on the phone.

A study published in 2012 showed that:

• Drivers who ate were 44% sowed
• Sipping a drink caused 22% reduction in response
• Eating and drinking caused poor lane control
• Hand-free phones caused 26.5% reduction in response
• Texting caused 37.4% slowed response
• Alcohol caused 12.5% reduction in response

Annually, the state of California spends $12 million of taxpayer money to violate their 4th and 5th Amendment rights with spontaneous checkpoints.

Shockingly, most of the checkpoints are manned by officers considered working in overtime which exponentially increases the cost.

The ineffective nature of these checkpoints have been proven by a study published in 2009 that succinctly demonstrated that “there is no evidence to indicate that this campaign, which involves a number of sobriety checkpoints and media activities to promote these efforts, has had any impact on public perceptions, driver behaviors, or alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes and injuries.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) recommends “saturation patrols” because checkpoints have been proven to be completely useless.

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