By air or by road, holiday travelers can expect to have their privacy violated.
Recently, there has been a lot of outrage over the full body scanners installed at many airports around the country due to privacy concerns. I myself earlier this week found myself to be a victim of this outrageous practice where my “junk” was definitely touched. Of course government agencies justify these scanners and invasive pat-downs saying that these steps are necessary to ensure our safety. DUI checkpoints are very similar. Police say this invasion of our privacy is necessary to curb the DUI problem.
I have written quite a bit about DUI Checkpoints in Pennsylvania and how the police is using them in an unjust and unconstitutional way. With Thanksgiving weekend coming up, holiday travelers all around PA and all over the country will be stopped at DUI checkpoints and have their privacy invaded when, in fact, the majority of arrests made at these checkpoints are for non-DUI violations. By using DUI checkpoints, the police can avoid the need to have probable cause (a fourth amendment requirement) and thus avoid having to do the “hard work” of investigating. Now they can just stop you for no reason to check if you are a criminal or not.
I came across an article recently that discusses this issue in great detail:
California police are turning DUI checkpoints into profitable operations that are far more likely to seize cars from unlicensed minority motorists than catch drunken drivers.
This article is a good piece of investigative journalism and it is well worth a read. What the author found was that California police frequently setup DUI checkpoints in heavily Hispanic areas to target illegal immigrants. Under CA law, the police can impound the vehicle of a driver who does not have a license for 30 days. There is no such law for DUI drivers. Illegal immigrants often do not have driver’s licenses and thus are a target for having their vehicle impounded. Once their vehicle is seized, they are often too afraid to seek legal avenues to challenge this act or are unable to afford the fines. Through these vehicle seizures, California police departments have earned windfall profits all in the name of DUI enforcement.
This is happening all over the country and the more money DUI checkpoints earn for the police the more frequently we can expect to see them. If we as a people remain silent about these affronts to our privacy now then who knows what to expect in the future.