January 11, 2005

Roadblocks and spot checks..

I think I've mentioned before that I live in Austin, TX. Recently, two cops were killed (no, amend that. Killed themselves) when they decided to get on a motorcycle and drive away from a bar. The problem? The driver had a BAC of 0.27 and his wife has a BAC of 0.33. Stupid. Very stupid. What could be stupider? How about the bar they left had over 60 cops in it. Not one cops apparently stopped them from leaving. Is that stupid enough for you?

The reason that I bring this up is that just yesterday, one of our state representatives introduced a bill into the state congress to allow for routine quasi-random road blocks to check for drunk drivers. I'm more than a little pissed about this, just like I'm pissed about car searches approaching the airport, which they do here too.

Here's why I'm pissed. This is a personal property issue more than anything else. I own my car, I drive my car. As long as I don't infringe on anyone else's rights, I can do whatever I want with my car. This idea is "Guilty until proven Innocent" mentality.

"But" you say, "When you go to the airport, they search all of your belongings, give you a pat down and otherwise invade your space, but you're okay with that?" Yes, I am, and here's why.

When I go to the airport, I get searched because I'm about to get on someone else's plane, with 150 other customers, and fly with them. Yes, I paid for the ticket, but I don't own the plane. They are protecting their property, both capital and intellectual. Their plane, their pilots, their good name. If I blew up their plane, they would lose, so they have the right to make sure I'm not going to do anything with their plane that they didn't agree to. Just like I have the right to search anyone who wants to ride in my car. I can always say "If you don't let me search you, you can't ride in my car." It's my property. I have rights.

"Okay" you agree "but what should we do about drunk drivers, then?" Thanks for asking. This is really simple. We live in a country that doesn't have a justice system, it's a system of jurisprudence. A body of law. Basically, what it means is that we would much rather let somebody who is guilty of a crime go free than lock somebody up who might be innocent. So, that said, here's the only thing we CAN do. Lock them up AFTER they've commited a crime. You drive drunk, the cop sees you driving drunk, he has probable cause, he pulls you over, you blow a solid .5 on the lush-o-meter and you go to jail. That's it. If you cause an accident because you're s-faced, you go to jail. That's it!

The Supreme Court has ruled that a cop cannot detain you or pull you over just because he feels like it. Without probable cause, he has no grounds. So, road blocks are the same way. In your car, you have a reasonable expectation of privacy. They can't search you or your car without probable cause or without asking for your permission. Bottom line, this is unconstitutional.

"But, but," you stammer "If you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to hide! Why is this such a big deal for you?" Guess what? I am not engaged in any illegal activity at all. I'm not even involved in objectionable behavior (as long as you don't count this blog...). I STILL have EVERYTHING to hide from the Government. Why? Because it's none of their business what I do unless I infringe on the rights of others, or give unusual evidence that I'm likely to. Driving my car is not unusual evidence. This is such a big deal because it is unconstitutional.

If I get caught in one of these roadblocks, it's a lawsuit. When the cop asks for my driver's license and proof of insurance, I'll give it to him. Then I will sue the city for every dime I can get.