Texas MADD on Sobriety Checkpoints
MADD is on a never ending quest to destroy the Bill of Rights. To MADD any protection for suspects/defendants, any privacy rights, any amount of due process is simply an obstruction on their neo prohibitionist highway.
The Texas lege is usually an easy target for the MADD lobby. However, Texas is one of the last states to protect it’s citizenry from DWI roadblocks. Texas MADD had this list of “Myths” and “Facts” about sobriety checkpoints on their website. Before the lobbying begins this time around, let’s review their arguments.
Myths About Sobriety Checkpoints
Myth: Sobriety checkpoints are not as effective as routine police patrols in detecting high-BAC drivers.
Fact: Sobriety checkpoints deter impaired driving by increasing the perception that impaired drivers will be detected and arrested.
Checkpoints may also have a greater chance of apprehending a high-BAC driver who regularly drinks and drives because many of these drivers believe they can drive carefully enough to avoid notice by regular patrol. A checkpoint can determine their alcohol use without observing their driving behavior.
Truth- There is no correlation between sobriety checkpoints and drunk driving fatalities.
Myth: Sobriety checkpoints are expensive, time-consuming, and a poor use of police officers’ time.
Fact: Preventing drunk driving has a legitimate place in the police budget. Checkpoints can be conducted with as few as 3-5 officers. Equipment, additional personnel, etc. can be obtained through cooperation with neighboring law enforcement agencies. Grants from NHTSA are available to departments who conduct sobriety checkpoints using their guidelines.
Truth- Sobriety checkpoints are expensive, time-consuming, and a poor use of police officers’ time.
Myth: The public is against sobriety checkpoints and views them as a form of police harassment.
Fact: Public polls show that 2 out of 3 Texans favor the use of checkpoints to combat drunk driving. A majority of Americans—79 percent—favor the use of sobriety checkpoints. Over 91% of drivers in Tennessee favor the use of sobriety checkpoints.
Truth- “Constitutional rights may not be infringed simply because the majority of the people choose that they be.” Westbrook v. Mihaly 2 Cal. 3d 756.
Myth: Sobriety checkpoints constitute illegal search and seizure.
Fact: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled them constitutional. They are similar to metal detectors at airports, and they save lives.
Truth- The US Supreme Court did rule in favor of these roadblocks. The decision is sheer idiocy. Wikipedia sums it up well.
However, by a 6-3 decision in Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz (1990), the United States Supreme Court found properly conducted sobriety checkpoints to be constitutional. Although acknowledging that such checkpoints infringed on a constitutional right, Chief Justice Rehnquist argued that the state interest in reducing drunk driving outweighed this minor infringement.
Dissenting justices argued that the Constitution doesn’t provide exceptions. “That stopping every car might make it easier to prevent drunken driving…is an insufficient justification for abandoning the requirement of individualized suspicion”, dissenting Justice Brennan insisted