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Anonymous asked in Politics & GovernmentLaw Enforcement & Police · 1 decade ago

What are my rights at a "checkpoint"?

Recently pulled up to a local-police "checkpoint" - check your license and registration, you look all right, go ahead. (This is in the US).

Something about this process raised my civics-class hackles. What are the rights of a driver (and the rights of the police) in this case? Do the local authorities have inherent right to see documentation without probable cause to suspect anything is amiss? What happens if one declines?

Pointers to actual case law or documented articles a bonus.

8 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Here's probably more information than you wanted. There are different types of checkpoints. Permanent checkpoints are allowed in areas where there is a lower expectation of privacy. The best example of this is close to the international border. If a checkpoint is set up by the border, then the justification is that it is part of the “extended” border (you have very little privacy rights at a border but this type of checkpoint generally has to be within 100 miles of the border). However, if a permanent checkpoint is set up by the border, it’s scope is limited to its purpose. That means, that if it is an immigration checkpoint, then the agents have to let you go once they have ascertained that you are not undocumented or that you are not involved in alien-smuggling activity. If they don’t have any reason to believe that you have violated the immigration laws then, they have to let you go, even if you refuse to open your trunk or let them make a more thorough search. For a good discussion on this check out the Ninth Circuit’s decision in United States v. Martinez-Fuertes, 414 F.2d 305 (9th Cir. 1975)

    A temporary checkpoint is a different thing. In Indianapolis v.Edmond, 512 U.S. 32, the Supreme Court held that the police can’t make random stops at a checkpoint without “individualized suspicion.” That is to say, police can’t just set up a checkpoint to see if anyone is breaking the law, in general. In 2004, however, the Supreme Court limited Edmond in a case called Illinios v. Lidster. In that case, the police created a checkpoint to find out information about a hit and run accident, stopped the cars very briefly and asked them about the accident. The Supreme Court reasoned that these types of checkpoints were okay because they were meant to gather information rather than to investigate the passengers for law violations. They were investigating a crime in particular (the hit and run) and not the passengers in the car. Also check out Michigan Dept of State Police v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444. That’s were the Supreme Court says that sobriety checkpoints are okay. The justification is that there is an immediate danger to the public if there are drunk drivers on the road. So, because drunk driving and traffic safety go hand-in-hand then sobriety checkpoints are okay.

    Hope this helps!

    Source(s): I am a lawyer.
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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I personally believe that the driver(s) in this case has no legal rights to complain but to comply with the directive of the officers in the road. What are their rights? NONE. Yes the authorities have the inherent right to see or ask documents without probable cause, since this is randomly check so everybody or anybody can be check, the only rights the driver have is that the check will dwell mainly with the inspection and nothing else hokus pokus will happen later on.

    If one declines the police has the right to apprehend or stop the driver, if the officer desire and routinely search further the vehicle or the person itself.

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  • 1 decade ago

    In sum, the balance of the State's interest in preventing drunken driving, the extent to which this system can reasonably be said to advance that interest, and the degree of intrusion upon individual motorists who are briefly stopped, weighs in favor of the state program. We therefore hold that it is consistent with the Fourth Amendment

    Source(s): MICHIGAN DEP'T OF STATE POLICE v. SITZ, 496 U.S. 444 (1990)
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  • Erika
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    specific rights are delimited; it is, there's a suitable to not be discriminated against on the inspiration of race, the place a universal suitable could additionally incorporate a suitable to not be discriminated against because of the fact of eco-friendly hair, a suitable that may not in regulation. Discrimination in and of itself isn't a foul difficulty: discriminating tastes in clothing makes one properly-dressed. yet we as a society have a universal consensus approximately specific factors wherein discrimination isn't allowed. it incredibly is the place the "specific" comes into play. This comparable meaning of the be conscious "specific" could be seen in the FBI, which has "specific brokers" yet no "universal brokers." Their function in the regulation enforcement community is precisely constrained by ability of regulation.

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  • Kevin
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    Checkpoints are legal. There are a lot of hoops cops have to jump through when they set them up, to make/keep them legal.

    If you are licensed and legal why are you so bothered by the minor inconvenience. They are trying to get impaired and illegal drivers off the road, which makes your drive safer.

    Source(s): Police Officer, 11 years
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  • Katie
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    If you say no you'll recieve a ticket for failure to display registration on demand. And they will mostlikely search your entire car because they think you have something to hide.

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  • 1 decade ago

    None or either you let them search and check anything they want or they can make up pretty good charges that will end you up in jail. Many cops are very good making stories up they should be teachers.

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  • 1 decade ago

    they are also there to catch stolen vehicles and find people they are searching for they are very legal

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