No Refusal Checkpoints work like a normal DUI checkpoint. However, if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test at a No Refusal Checkpoint, there is a Judge on-site that will sign a warrant forcing you to submit to a blood test in order to determine your sobriety. The No Refusal Checkpoints are aimed at detouring the common practice by those accused of DUI to refuse to take the breathalyzer test in hopes that charge would be dismissed or otherwise reduced for lack of evidence (a strategy this Firm does not necessarily condone or endorse – we advise to avoid the whole issue by not drinking and driving!). See the 10 News Article here.
These measures are being applauded by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and groups like Mothers’ Against Drunk Driving who suggest that No Refusal Stops will be heavily advertised in advance and will ultimately save lives.
Critics question the constitutionality of the on-the-spot warrants. Specifically, how does the refusal to submit to breathalyzer, with no other evidence, provide the necessary probable cause to allow a judge issue a warrant for a blood sample? The protection from unreasonable search and seizure, including a compulsory blood sample is protected by the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Certainly, it is well established law that non-consensual extraction of blood is a violation an individual’s reasonable expectation of privacy.
We can all agree that Drunk Driving is a serious and deadly crime that kills thousands of drivers every year. However, the continued degradation of constitutional rights is worrisome. (See my earlier posts on governmental consumer regulations and lawful GPS tracking by the government). The Fourth Amendment protects us from governmental intrusion into our personal lives. Once constitutional rights are diminished, it is nearly impossible to restore them to their original state.
As to the specific issue of No Refusal Checkpoints and the on-the-sport warrant, I am interested to see how Fourth Amendment Constitutional challenges to DUI charges play out in court. Perhaps one solution would be to institute more significant penalties for refusal to submit to the breathalyzer test than those currently imposed – a temporary suspension of driving privileges.
Tell us what you think. Are the checkpoints a violation of constitutional rights? If they are, is it still worth it?
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