Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Check Point Information

According to my local paper the Missouri Highway Patrol has a sobriety check point planned for this month.

"Patrol plans DWI checkpointSt. Joseph News-PressThe Missouri State Highway Patrol is continuing its push to remove intoxicated drivers from Northwest Missouri roads.The patrol will conduct a sobriety checkpoint in April with the assistance of the Buchanan County Sheriff's Department. The patrol previously announced a checkpoint in Nodaway County."This is a successful method for removing intoxicated drivers from the highways," said Capt. Johnnie B. Hoggatt, commanding officer of Troop H. "Drivers will experience little if any inconvenience while stopping for the checkpoint."

I don't know if they do that in other areas or not. (I know they have check points, but do they announce them ahead of time?) I wonder if that little article will stop anyone from driving drunk this month? Something else I was wondering about. Did they plan on having a sobriety check point already, or was this something they decided to do after a court decision said they can ask questions about subjects unrelated to the reason for the stop.

"Court decision allows questioning during traffic stopsOfficers can’t prolong length of stop through unrelated interrogation

Ahmad Safi
Public Safety Reporter

A police officer can ask questions unrelated to the purpose of the traffic stop as long as questioning doesn't prolong the stop, according to a court decision earlier this year.The news comes as nothing new to the St. Joseph Police Department, but provides clarification, Cmdr. Jim Connors of the patrol division said. For the average motorist, it defines limitations in order to prevent a lawful traffic stop from turning into a so-called "fishing expedition" by officers."They (police) are allowed to inquire if they want but, of course, the person does not have to answer their questions," attorney Mark Wissehr said, citing the Fifth Amendment, which protects individuals against self-incrimination.Mr. Connors says discretionary questioning during routine traffic stops is just part of good investigative police work and sometimes leads to the detection of more serious crimes. Sometimes motorists answer untruthfully, even when the officer has no basis for suspecting crime is afoot, and Mr. Connors says probing questions help the officer determine the validity of what the motorist is saying. Yet the judicial philosophy has persisted that officers violate a driver's constitutional rights if the officer asks unrelated questions, such as asking a speeder his immigration status while issuing the ticket. What an unrelated traffic stop question is has been a point of contention."You can ask the question, 'Have you had a nice day today?' and that is unrelated," Mr. Connors said. Attorney Terri Lowdon says a police officer may ask questions on any topic as long as he does not prolong the length of time needed to issue a citation. "If the officer has run a criminal check and is waiting for traffic to come back and just visiting - that's part of the lawful traffic stop," Ms. Lowdon said. But once the ticket or summons is issued, any additional information, evidence or statement obtained - even if it leads to the arrest of the individual - is considered unlawful detention, and evidence or statements obtained would be excluded from a case, according to Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon's office. A five-minute traffic stop cannot become a six-minute stop from questioning that is unrelated to the stop, press secretary John Fougere said. The Jan. 19 decision by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals not only clears the way for unrelated questions during stops, but it also reiterates a past Supreme Court decision that it was not unconstitutional for a drug dog to be used to sniff for possible drugs outside of a vehicle during a routine traffic stop if it didn't also extend the length of the stop."

I don't drink or use illegal drugs but I do have some problems with the unconstitutional check points. The idea of stopping every vehicle that comes down the road is a fishing expedition. Another problem I have has nothing to do with the constitution. It could be work related. I work very strange hours, an unscheduled stop could cause me to be late for work. Being held up by a sobriety check point is not an acceptable reason for being late.

Thanks go to:
The St. Joseph News-Press

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.


Anonymous Jake Porter said...

Sounds like a violation of the 4th and 5th amendments.

7:38 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

I think it's unconstitutional. I'm amazed that the police are allowed to ask unrelated questions.

6:46 PM  
Blogger The Sovereign Editor said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:40 AM  
Blogger The Sovereign Editor said...

If they ask a question at a traffic stop, every motorist should ask the officer if they have probable cause. If the police don't have probable cause, then politely refuse to answer any question (absent probable cause, law enforcement officers need a warrant to get information from you). If we hand them our liberties on a silver platter, they will quickly take more. We need to make them work for it.

9:42 AM  
Blogger Katherine Thayer said...

Checkpoints provide many advantages such as locate contraband items.

11:49 PM  

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