I hate MADD, and I always have. Now you might say I shouldn't hate, but I truly do. They are single handedly responsible for the CheckPoints that many of us have had to suffer through. They used all the old idioms of passing laws, but most importantly, "Do It For The Children!"
The 4th amendment clearly states, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall
One of the most ubiquitous forms of suspicionless checkpoints is the sobriety checkpoint. Many folks are under the false impression that sobriety checkpoints are legal throughout the country based upon Michigan Dept. of State Police V. Sitz. While the Supreme Court did in fact carve out a 4th Amendment exception for sobriety checkpoints in this case, legal analysis doesn't stop there. Before a sobriety checkpoint can be considered 'legal', it must not only pass constitutional muster at the federal level, it must do so at the state level as well while abiding by all applicable statutory requirements. What this means is that 11 states currently prohibit sobriety checkpoints within their boundaries. In the remaining 39 States, one or more of the following conditions exist:
- Roadblocks are explicitly authorized by statutory law
- Courts have upheld them despite the lack of specific statutory authorization
- Courts have failed to strike down or review checkpoints conducted unilaterally by local policeWhat's especially ironic about this scenario is that even though it was a Michigan case that gave rise to the 4th amendment loophole to begin with, Michigan is still one of the 11 State's that explicitly prohibit sobriety checkpoints within its boundaries. After SCOTUS ruled in favor of Michigan's State police regarding their roadblock program, the case was remanded back to the Michigan Supreme Court for further review. The Michigan Supreme Court felt so strongly about the issue, they ruled that regardless of the federal Supreme Court's ruling, the State Constitution still made such roadblock programs illegal within Michigan's boundaries.In Arizona, there's no state law explicitly addressing the issue of sobriety checkpoints. There are state statutes however that explicitly define when a peace officer may stop an individual. These statutes make it perfectly clear that a peace officer must have reasonable suspicion in order to initiate a stop. Further, the state constitution explicitly recognizes an individual's right to privacy that can only be pre-empted by an explicit act of the legislature. Nonetheless, AZ courts have upheld the legality of sobriety checkpoints mainly based upon SCOTUS's ruling in Michigan V. Sitz. Additionally, AZ courts have relied upon the 'compelling government interest' doctrine, a doctrine commonly used by courts across the country as a basis for justifying otherwise unlawful government behavior prejudicial to individual rights.One of the purposes of this website is to shine a spotlight on legal issues surrounding sobriety checkpoints in general and expose common misperceptions used as justification to continue existing sobriety checkpoint operations.