DUI checkpoints, which have officers stopping all motorists in a given area in order to verify their compliance with DUI laws, have been upheld as legal by the Supreme Court in Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz. SCOTUS found that the infringement upon the 4th amendment protections from unreasonable search and seizure were negligible, and trumped by the government’s interest in promoting safe roadways.
That seems a sketchy justification to me, but it is what it is. And just because the Supreme Court thinks DUI checkpoints are constitutional doesn’t mean the states have to use them. Which brings me to HB1084, a bill I mentioned briefly while rounding up interesting pre-filed bills for next year’s legislative session.
The bill is pretty simple. “Halting requires reasonable suspicion.” As in, cops can’t just stop you to check to see if you’re committing a crime. They must have reasonable cause to believe you’re committing a crime.
This means, among other things, no DUI checkpoints. No “papers please” stops. No stop-and-frisks. If an officer wants to detain you, they have to have a reason beyond “I want to make sure they’re not committing a crime.”
The bill is being sponsored by Rep. Rick Becker, a Republican from Bismarck, and Senator Kelly Armstrong who has worked as a defense attorney in Dickinson.
I’ll say that I’m not optimistic about the bill passing. There is a strong streak of hypocritical prohibitionism which runs through North Dakota – we’re a state that likes to drink a lot while simultaneously taking a sanctimonious position on drinking – and the bill will likely fail.
But it should pass, because we need to curb some of law enforcement’s power.