Roadblocks violate constitutionsPublished 8:33pm Tuesday, October 22, 2013
To the editor:
Many citizens of Polk County are upset with the increasing number of roadblocks. I am not alone when I mention that I will not attend many local functions due to roadblocks.
It’s a fact that you cannot leave the Steeplechase or barbecue festival unhindered. Recently, Homeland Security has been collaborating with the Polk County Sheriff’s Department and the Town of Columbus police on roadblocks. Will this collaboration result in free goodies, such as riot control gear from the feds?
Drivers license and registration check points are illegal! The police and district attorney conveniently avoid reading the entire Statute, 20-16.3A. Subsection (c) states “Law enforcement agencies may conduct any type of checking station or roadblock as long as it is established and operated in accordance with the provisions of the United States Constitution and the Constitution of North Carolina.”
Article I of the North Carolina Constitution, Section 20 states “SEC. 20 General Warrants – General warrants, whereby any officer or other person may be commanded to search suspected places without evidence of the act committed, or to seize any person or persons not named, whose offense is not particularly described and supported by evidence, are dangerous to liberty and shall not be granted.”
The fourth amendment to the U.S. Constitution states “Amendment 4 -Search and Seizure. Ratified 12/15/1791. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Drivers license and registration check points violates both constitutions, thus is unlawful.
In March 2011, first-term representative Glen Bradley of Youngsville introduced House Bill 375 in the NC General Assembly, which would clarify that checkpoints are illegal in the state. Law enforcement refers to roadblocks as checkpoints, check points or safety checkpoints.
The US Supreme Court has ruled that checkpoints are seizures without a warrant and without probable cause, and as such are unconstitutional in violation of the fourth amendment of the Bill of Rights, but the court specifies there are exceptions which allow police to violate the law in the name of public safety. For example, if police received a tip that there are religious extremists with a bomb on the way to blow up a building, there may be good reason to conduct a roadblock. It would still be illegal, but it would be an allowed exception to the Bill of Rights.
Apparently, HB 375 fell by the wayside in the NC General Assembly. If it were to become law, those roadblocks, which stop traffic and violate everyone’s rights, might become just a bad memory of a state, which was rapidly becoming a police state rather than a free state.
– Christine Hatfield, Mill Spring