In previous posts we have discussed roadblocks to stop potential drunk drivers. While law enforcement officials believe this is an effective way to monitor and prevent drunk drivers, it is a questionable activity under the 4th Amendment. Under Constitutional search and seizure law, police officers must have a probable cause to stop citizens, either on the street, or in a vehicle. Critics have claimed that roadblocks are overstepping this authority. Now, there is more concern as Alabama police officers, commissioned by the National Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), have reportedly started stopping citizens to collect “voluntary” blood and saliva samples.
Even though law enforcement officers do have power to catch and charge suspected drunk drivers, there are some instances that overstep individual rights. Our Birmingham drunk driving defense attorneys are experienced with protecting the rights of individuals and in standing up against abusive and overreaching law enforcement officers and agencies. In the event of an arrest, we will review your case, determine if any evidence was illegally obtained and aggressively defend you against criminal charges and penalties.
Recent reports indicate that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration commissioned a study that is projected to cost $7.9 million dollars over the course of 3 years. Roadblocks have been established in St. Clair County and Bibb County aimed at collecting these allegedly “voluntary and anonymous” samples. While some claim this is a viable way to check for drunk drivers, the ACLU and victims of the road blocks see it as an abuse of power. The police are forcing drivers off the road so that federally contracted employees can test blood and saliva for intoxication and an illegal blood-alcohol content.
Though officers who were initially questioned denied involvement in the study or the roadblocks, policemen later admitted that the department coordinated with the NHTSA in using off-duty officers and contracted employees to help with the survey. The case of “voluntary” roadblocks and off-duty officers raises both Constitutional questions as well as issues involving the use of contractors in a law-enforcement project.
Critics question the idea of “anonymous” and “voluntary” DNA samples when drivers are pulled over and questioned by a badged officer. Drivers who were involved in the study felt that it didn’t seem right to be forced off the road with no probable cause, then asked for a sample. Officers were then offering $10 for a cheek swab and $50 for a blood test. Individuals who were part of the “study” also claimed they felt trapped, but took the breathalyzer because it was the easiest way to leave. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the police abused their power. They are looking into pursuing legal action against the federal agency and the Fort Worth Police Department.
Individuals charged with DUI or any crime should be aware of potential abuses and Constitutional violations. Not only are your rights at stake, but you could also be wrongfully charged and convicted for a crime. Any evidence presented against you should be examined by an experienced attorney and challenged in court.
More Blog Entries:
New DUI Defense: Too Drunk to be Prosecuted? Oct. 12, 2013, Birmingham Underage DUI Defense Lawyer Blog
Field Sobriety Tests Only One Piece of the Puzzle in Alabama DUI Cases, Aug. 25, 2013, Birmingham DUI Defense Lawyer Blog