Safety Checkpoints: Guilty Until Proven Innocent?

Patch reader Bob Hohmeier asks what happened to our Fourth Amendment rights that supposedly protect us against illegal “searches” without “probable cause?"

The following letter to the editor was submitted by Patch reader Bob Hohmeier.

How would you feel, while driving down the road, not violating any traffic laws, if you got pulled over, just because the “law enforcement officer” wanted to see if he could find a violation? Well, folks, this is happening all over our cities today. They used to be called “sobriety check points”, but now are using an even more “politically correct” term and calling them “safety check points.”

See related stories: 

  • St. Louis County Police Conducting Sobriety Checkpoints This Month
  • Jefferson County Ranks Second for Drinking and Driving Deaths
  • DWI Arrests Made by Arnold Police During Safety Checkpoint

Seems before we are even allowed to drive on the road and violate any laws, we experience some of those “safety checks.” We are subjected to a test in order to have the privilege of driving - our vehicle has to be deemed “safe” through an “inspection” to register our plates with the state so the government can ensure we have proper insurance, are caught up with our taxes and other paper work is in order.

But that's not enough. On almost any given weekend, we are subjected to the check points where innocent drivers are being harassed and harangued by those charged with enforcing the law. I can understand stopping a speeder, or one that’s weaving and doesn’t appear to be in control of his vehicle. But you and I, on our trips to Grandma's or the store or back home after a night of shopping for the loved ones, should NOT be subject to a safety check point so the police can “look” for some sort of violation of the law they had no reasonable suspicion of prior.

I seem to recall learning of that sort of thing in my history class, but it was in reference to the Gestapo in Nazi, Germany. It was even frequently the butt of jokes or used in the movies. We all recall hearing that guard, upon stopping the vehicle, “your papers please.” So, I ask you, how is our current system any different?

Today, you come across one of these check points, you’re stopped, the officer asks where you’re coming from and where you’re going, asks to see your license and insurance card, and meanwhile, is scanning the interior of your car with his flashlight. Why do we tolerate this?

What happened to the Fourth Amendment to our Constitution? The one that supposedly protects us against illegal “searches” without “probable cause?” Our country’s founders believed freedom of travel was a such an obvious rightful liberty, they didn’t even enumerate it. How far we have fallen?

We need to wake up and work to restore freedoms lost and stop the encroachments on our liberties! We need to elect people, from the local level up, who believe in constitutionally limited government. We need to look at history and see where we are repeating past mistakes so we are not doomed to fall into the same despotism we once defeated!

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foxxydrummer December 11, 2012 at 03:33 PM
It's not for safety, it's to generate revenue.
peggy December 11, 2012 at 06:46 PM
i can appreciate sobriety check points but when I am on my way home at 10:00p.m. and I get stopped on Old Sugar Creek rd at Murphy Baptist church for NO reason and i get the third degree about where I am going and where I am coming from it is irritating! I appreciate the work our deputies do but stop someone that you have reason to stop!
Sharon Miller December 11, 2012 at 08:51 PM
I'm with foxxydrummer on this. They're only there to generate revenue. We have some decent guys in uniform,however the older I get,the younger they get and without a doubt,and unfortunately the more cocky they seem to get. Younger people don,t show any respect for older people and it seems to carry into law enforcement. I consider myself a law abiding citizen. When a person is stopped, that might as well go out the window. Some of these guys need to go back to those history classes. And pay more attention to those who actually are driving very poorly. We aren't all meth heads. A lot of us are ligitimate tax payers who like living here. But don't like the attitude of law enforcement.
F you December 12, 2012 at 03:30 AM


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