Thursday, March 24, 2011

Washington's latest assault on the Fourth Amendment

The existence of sobriety checkpoints on our roadways is an affront to the Fourth Amendment. The very notion that it's okay for the police to stop folks without cause simply because they are driving on the road should have all of us up in arms.

Of course it doesn't because most folks are lemmings who are more than happy to hand over their liberty in exchange for the "protection" of the state.

The Fourth Amendment says that the police can't arrest you without a warrant absent probable cause. Our courts managed to screw that up by proclaiming that the police can stop a person if the officer has reasonable suspicion to believe that criminal activity might be afoot. This lowering of the standard had led to police arresting motorists for driving while intoxicated even though they can't point to a single traffic violation as the basis for the stop.

Now the Constitution has never gotten in the way of our beloved senators and representatives in Washington. Quite a few senators are up in arms over a couple of apps available for your smartphone that will tip you off to the location of sobriety checkpoints. The senators called on Apple, Google and Research in Motion to remove the apps from the online stores.

As a result, if you own a BlackBerry, RIM sold you down the river. (But you can still get a game the glorifies Al Capone.)

PhantomALERT and Trapster will provide motorists with notices of nearby checkpoints as well as speedtraps and red light cameras.

"These applications are nothing more than a how-to guide in avoiding law enforcement and they provide drunk drivers with the tools they need to go undetected, putting innocent families and children at risk." Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) 

Hey, Chuck, since you took that oath to uphold the Constitution, you might want to revisit the presumption of innocence and the Fourth Amendment. It's not against the law to have a drink and then get behind the wheel of a car. It's against the law to do so if you've lost the normal use of your mental or physical faculties.

Sure, there will be drivers who are intoxicated that avoid a checkpoint thanks to their smartphone -- but there will be many more drivers who are able to avoid the assault on their civil liberties and privacy. Contrary to what Mr. Schumer and his ilk believe, we shouldn't be subjected to mandatory encounters with the police just because there are some folks out there breaking the law.

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