Apparently four Democratic senators wrote a letter to Apple, RIM (Blackberry) and Google requesting that they discontinue distributing the app(s) which let drivers share information in real time concerning the location of DUI checkpoints roadblocks. It seems the Senators are upset because they do not want this information shared among the public because they want as many drivers as possible to be snared in these dubious road blacks. The interesting thing is there is significant case law concerning DUI roadblocks in Maryland and throughout the country. In Maryland it appears that the good Senators may not be up to speed on the current state of the law.
At the outset, drivers have a 4th Amendment Constitutional right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures by the Government unless there exists reasonable articulable suspicion to believe that a driver is engaged in some form of criminal behavior. This is a very important right because it protects you as an American citizen against the overzealous Government. It is the difference between living in America versus living in Lybia. This is what deters the cops from kicking your door in at 3:00 a.m. simply because the doughnut shop is closed and they have nothing else to do. Unfortunately for the people, the Courts have been successful in eroding and restricting this very important legal right in the name of DUI prosecution.
Years back, the Michigan Supreme Court recognized a citizen’s Constitutional right and held that DUI roadblocks and sobriety checkpoints were in fact illegal in that it was an invasion of personal privacy to stop an automobile without reasonable articulable suspicion. However, the Government not being satisfied with the Court’s holding appealed the case to the Supreme Court of the United States and in Michigan v. Sitz, the Supremes recognized that while this behavior was in fact a violation of the Constitution, we are going to look the other way and allow this illegal behavior in the name of DUI prosecution. There are people that may hail this decision as a success, but any ruling that erodes the rights and protections of the people vis-à-vis the United States Constitution, is definitely not a success. The Court (Chief Justice Rehnquist) held that despite the violation to the person, there is a greater good which must be protected and that is the safety of the people against drunk drivers. The Supremes left the details about how to utilize this new found public intrusion up to the individual states. The great State of California was the first to interpret these new “rights” in Ingersoll v. Palmer. In that case, the Court identified the fact that public notice to the people was important to lower the emotional trauma of such “police state” action on citizens.
Maryland soon interpreted these new DUI checkpoint rights in Little v. State (300 Md.485) 1984. In Little, Maryland’s high court held no Fourth Amendment violation occurred when automobile occupants were stopped at sobriety checkpoints in view of the State’s compelling interest in controlling drunk driving. Thus, the Court is now finding that the Constitution does render rights to the people, but if there are compelling interests that outweigh those rights, then the Constitution is out the window. Just what the esteemed framers had in mind I’m sure, a flexible document of rights, but only when they are convenient to follow. The Maryland high Court imposed the following restrictions for DUI sobriety checkpoints in Maryland.
- Police discretion in the field is carefully circumscribed
- Limitations on police activity imposed by clearly crafted regulations
- Approval by high level administrators
- 4. Approaching drivers are to be given adequate warning and the opportunity to turn away if they desire.
- Cars are stopped systematically, not randomly
- Cars are free to drive through without stopping if they so desire
Whoops, did the honorable Senators not read number four above, “approaching drivers are to be given adequate warning” and the opportunity to turn away if they desire. Maryland and the other 49 states are, at present, not police states and thus respectable citizens cannot be stopped without notice and without cause of any kind. Thereby limiting the fear and confusion wreaked upon the motoring public.
Getting back to the matter at hand, DUI apps, the apps are alleged to give drivers the advance notice that the Government is required to provide. Additionally, there is one other pesky right that citizens have, the First Amendment right to speak freely and without interference from the Government. Anybody wonder how that might apply here?
So there you have it folks, your tax dollars hard at work, again.