By Rogers Sevastianos & Bante, LLP, posted in Criminal Defense, on Wednesday, March 19, 2014.
Down in Christian County, there was a DWI checkpoint. The checkpoint was, in the sense of catching drunk drivers, a failure. Only one person was arrested for driving while intoxicated. On the other hand, one person was arrested for marijuana possession and ten were arrested for possessing meth.
Now, a bit of a constitutional primer. The US Supreme Court has declared that DWI checkpoints are constitutional, provided they are conducted according to set protocols. On the other hand, drug checkpoints are decidedly not constitutional. Nor are checkpoints to search for individuals who may or may not have warrants. No protocol can make them appropriate.
So, inquiring minds naturally raise a question: how is that 11 people were arrested for possession of drugs at a checkpoint that was not supposed to be looking for drugs or warrants? Even the police chief declared it “unusual.”
I guess the officers were just lucky. They were out, looking for drunk drivers. Couldn’t find any. But they did find quite a few people who were committing other crimes. And those people gave the officers cause to search the car.
And one more constitutional factoid. While there are of course intricacies to the argument, the US Supreme Court has also held that pretextual stops are perfectly acceptable. Pretextual stops are stops where officer want to search a car, but don’t have enough of a reason. So they follow the person until the person commits some minor traffic violation. And then everything is okay.