With various holidays approaching [and now holidays are not even the deciding factor anymore], people need to prepare themselves for those pesky DUI checkpoints, because those liberty infringement devices are increasingly the rage in local law enforcement. They are not popular with police agencies because they are effective, because statistically they are not. They are popular because they are funded by grant funds from Sacramento, that come from Washington, DC, that had been taken from us back here; it is a big, costly circle that your and my money has traveled to then screw over you with.
The grant system is one of the greatest evils in policing, because grants are essentially a political bounty for pressing certain types of cases; the merit of the case does not matter; the filthy lucre funding its processing drives the affair. And nowhere is the evil more manifest than in drunk driving, DUI, DWI, or whatever label.
MADD, the lineal descendants of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union of old, which gave us Prohibition and the 18th Amendment, are furious that the 21st Amendment repealed Prohibition, but their neo-Prohibitionism is even more dangerous than its ancestor oppression. They have, with phony statistics and threats of placard-laced demonstrations, conned or intimidated legislators, judges, DAs, and cops into increasing harshness regarding drunk driving, and so they all lose their soul in the evil bargain.
Of course, if the Framers’ will be done, civilian jurors would be protecting accusees from governmental overreaching, but jurors have increasingly lost their independence and have come to believe that their government is good, reliable, trustworthy, and to be heeded. Yeah, idiotic as it sounds, people on juries cannot seem to see, or do not want to believe, the corruption in their very presence. Perhaps their own sense of security would be lessened if they came to understand how corrupt their government is in these things, but their lack of institutional skepticism has dangerously undermined the very foundation of our jury trial system.
The truth of the matter is that government makes a bundle from drunk driving, between the block grant moneys from DC, to the penalty assessments on the fines [now about 400% of the base fine, if not more], to the various fees, to the costs of the rehabilitation programs, to the need for more DAs and judges to try the matters and more cops to initiate them. The fiscal corruption underlying DUI investigation and enforcement would make Bernie Madoff look like Mother Teresa in comparison.
“But what of the dangers of drunk driving?” Garbage! The system, at the insistence of the pushy harpies from MADD, have created the category of “alcohol-related [accidents, deaths, incidents, etc.]” in place of drunk-driver-caused [same],” because the incidence of things being actually caused by drunk drivers is miniscule, and that truth would undermine their political agenda. But something gets into the stats as being “alcohol-related” if a sober driver hits a drunk pedestrian; if a sober driver’s drunk uncle in the back seat is thrown out when the car flips over because its tire fell off; if a drunk driver is sitting lawfully at a light and a sober driver negligently runs into him; etc.; that category has nothing to do with who caused what. Yet those “alcohol-related” stats are the ones that supply the pneumatic numbers that make everyone go nuts about drunk driving.
Drunk driver caused accidents are in single digit %-ages, which would not help the MADD harpies, nor the block grant ghouls, nor the legions of government employees who profit from DUI enforcement and prosecution and conviction.
So, what of checkpoints – they are legal, are they not? Well, it all depends on what you mean by legal. The Framers would not have tolerated such a suspicionless invasion of privacy. As Justice Clarence Thomas, a student of the Constitution whose scholarship on the subject is almost as faithful and pure as mine, has opined, “I rather doubt that the Framers of the Fourth Amendment would have considered ‘reasonable’ a program of indiscriminate stops of individuals not suspected of wrongdoing.” But, you see, most judges, even up to the U.S. Supreme Court, are politicians; few are scholars, and even fewer are faithful to the Founding principles.
And those politician judges have decreed that a properly erected and run[!] checkpoint is “legal,” just as other politicians have found it beneficial to set up the scheme in the first place. But they do have to be properly erected and run, and very few are so, even for the watered down constitutional standards of the neo-Prohibitionist judges.
But beware, if you go through them. First off, watch, look, and listen, and if you see one ahead, turn off; that is legal, if you make a lawful turning maneuver. Don’t give the constabularial ghouls the opportunity to tell you to stop, tell you to wait, tell you to go, tell you to blow into their hands, command you to answer questions, etc. See, that is part of what is going on here. Cops like the checkpoints, whether they get any arrests out of them or not, because they then have the chance to play “we’re the Man; we’re in charge of your freedom” to the citizens thus stopped and inconvenienced. This is an incident of police statism, not public safety. This is power, not protection.
The fact of the matter is that communities that do not receive these grant funds do not do checkpoints on their own dime, because checkpoints return miniscule results for the efforts expended. There might be 500-800 citizens stopped while going about their business, and from that will come only 1-3 DUI arrests, if that many; one in Yucca Valley just stopped over 1,100 motorists, and found not one drunk driver! Every police chief worth his stars [and some wear five, like General of the Army Douglas MacArthur!] will confess that saturation patrols are far, far more effective in apprehending drunk drivers than are checkpoints.
So, first try to avoid it by turning off. If you are in one and get approached, hand your license and registration and proof of insurance and say you do not want to talk, period. You don’t have to talk; you don’t have to say where you are coming from or going to or whether you have had anything to drink. Decline to say anything.
If they then shunt you over to the investigation line, be polite, but answer no questions, say nothing, and do not perform any objective symptoms [field sobriety] tests – you have a right to refuse, and politely do so, on advice of counsel, this counsel! If you are arrested, of course, you have to submit to a breath or blood test. Ask for breath, and then ask for a back-up urine test, which is your right. When they say you cannot have a back-up urine test, politely request that the officer record that you have requested it. Then say nothing else. Anything you say to the police can and will be used against you, either in the order you said it, or in any order than helps their case. The cops are not there to help you. They are there to put DUI cases together. They make money by putting cases together; they make nothing by being nice to you and letting you go, so they will not, so don’t demean yourself by asking. Ever.
Checkpoints are tyranny, DUI arrests and convictions are the product of evil maneuvers by purposeful people, then “supported” by voodoo science that would not be admissible in any other sort of case, and all aspects of both the stop and of the prosecution are fightable. Do not cave in, or else evil people will thereby be emboldened to harass others.
If you do get snagged, though, there are things to be done, if you have the right lawyer. Call me, if it’s the Inland Empire [Palm Springs, Indio, Coachella Valley, Banning, Joshua Tree, Victorville, Needles, Blythe, Riverside, San Bernardino, Murrieta, Rancho Cucamonga, etc.].