T Nation

Police Checkpoints


Last Friday night they had a police checkpoint at the main intersection by my neighborhood. Me and a couple of neighbors went and watched for a while. I know the courts have deemed these as legal but it still seems like a violation of the fourth amendment and the exact definition of a police state. what are your thoughts?


1)You're right
2)Don't expect it to change.
3)You aren't free in America and you're REALLY not free in America in a car, which is funny, because to many the automobile is the very symbol of freedom.



Accox, if you are seen avoiding a police checkpoint, that is enough probably cause to allow police to inspect your car. Like it or not, I have seen many guys who fell victim to this.


If you mean "search" by inspect, that is not true. The 4th amendment still applies and there has to be probable cause or consent to search the car. However, you can be stopped simply for attempting to avoid a police checkpoint.

For the record, I don't like them in the least and think they should be outlawed.


Trying to avoid a police checkstop is probable cause.


It is probable cause for a motor vehicle stop, not a search. They are very different things.


I'm pretty sure that the police have to announce where they're going to have these, so you can avoid them if you are really worried.


You can try telling that to guys I spent time with in jail for this very thing. They avoided a police checkstop, and were searched against their consent. The court upheld the search when challenged, every single time.


the pic for your avatar is of cops but I have seen in NY and other states they they don't have to ask your permission to inspect your car they can just do it if they feel they want to.


The probable cause to stop a motor vehicle is totally separate from the probable cause needed to physically go inside a car and search it. There are exceptions to the warrant requirement with motor vehicles such as "plain sight" and "plain smell"(seeing or smelling evidence of criminal activity while observing the vehicle from the outside) as well as search incident to an arrest. Even these are being restricted in states like New Jersey(where I work). You can also always give consent to the police to look in your car. Those are the boundaries of the 4th amendment in regards to motor vehicles.

Could the police become agitated and wrongly think that an attempt to avoid a checkpoint is grounds to search a car by itself...I guess. Then they would have to "write" themselves out of the legalistic mess they created, maybe even by stretching the truth. Of course that's bullshit and I would have no part of it but it could happen.

Let me assure you guys though, that on a level playing field and following Constitutional mandates, it doesn't work that way.

I've been at this for a while.


Most police check points I've seen were when they were looking for a certain car or person. Once I found out after that they were after a pair that had robbed a local bank.

Other check points I've seen were for seat belts and they'd look over your stickers to make sure they were up to date. They have DUI check points during the summer holidays which always bag a few people dumb enough to drink to excess and then drive.

The cops do focus on minorities, young people, cars that stand out for any reason. My cars are very nondescript, no bumper stickers, nothing that attracts any unwanted attention.



Have you not yet learned that the Constitution has been stretched, manipulated, and completely ignored by now?

I will paint you a picture. You are police officer at a checkpoint, and you see a car driving towards you. Then, all of a sudden, it stops, does a u-turn (legal or not) and goes the other way. And you guess that gives them probable cause? Why would someone avoid a police checkpoint unless they had a reason not to?

What you are thinking is how it should be, but it just isn't that way in reality.


If you aren't drunk, what's the big deal?


No, I called a police district notorious for road blocks and they would not reveal their locations.



Fourth Amedmenet:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized


Police forcing a car to stop has the presumption that a person has violated the law. There is no such precedents in road blocks. Everybody in a road block is subject to police scrutiny without a cause for the police to believe that said persons have done anything wrong.
Technically, the police cannot stop you just for the hell of it, but this is what happens in road blocks. They cannot snoop around without presumption, but they do in road blocks.

Would you like it if the cops could pull you over all the time with out any cause? This is what road blocks do...It is a contradiction in the law. I am pretty sure this would not hold up in the Supreme Court.


I got searched for wearing a sweatshirt once, and while I thought it was ridiculous, I knew it would hold up in court. If the cop thought I might be hiding something in my sweatshirt, it's legit.


I believe it has. I can't remember the case.

There are guidelines that need to be followed such as randomizing the stops or stopping every single car that comes through a checkpoint(ie. you can't cherry pick certain cars for whatever reason). If the guidelines are followed, SCOTUS allowed for these checkpoints. If I remember correctly, the decision essentially said that stopping a car absent probable cause(for an MV stop) at a checkpoint was a violation of the 4th amendment, but public safety interests in removing impaired drivers allowed for it.

I think that is crazy and it shows how dangerous concerns about "public safety" can be in the wrong hands. What is even better is some towns use these roadblocks to issue scores of minor tickets too..like not having a registration card in your car or not wearing your seatbelt.


We live in a police state , thank the war on drugs


How do you think the state makes money? Do you think money is made when a rapist or child molester gets locked up? Nope. But how much money is made from seat belt tickets, no registration, speeding, and basic traffic violations? Tons.

You are correct about SCOTUS, but you show how the problem can be so easily circumvented. All that is needed is probable cause, which can be obtained from nearly anything. If you are swerving while you drive, seeming nervous during questioning, just about anything can be interpreted as probable cause.