Skip to comments.Virginia Appeals Court Expands Use of Roadblocks
Posted on 06/13/2012 1:24:56 PM PDT by Ken H
Court of Appeals in Virginia gives police a free hand in setting up roadblocks to search motorists not suspected of any crime.
Police in Virginia may block off roads to search and interrogate motorists as long as a vague "plan" is filed in advance, the state Court of Appeals ruled last Tuesday. Michael Anthony Desposito challengednged his May 27, 2009 arrest at a checkpoint run by the Hanover County Sheriff's Office on the ground that the department allowed its officers to run open-ended roadblocks in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Though Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, the Virginia courts presume that warrantless and suspicionless searches of motorists is acceptable as long as it is done in the name of safety. The state requires automobiles to go through an annual "safety" inspection process in which those that pass receive a sticker good for a year. Identifying automobiles that may have minor violations such as window tint that is slightly too dark or wiper blades that are a bit too old is big business for the state. According to the Virginia Auditor of Public Accounts, safety sticker tickets generated $12.5 million in 2010.
Desposito was stopped at a checkpoint meant to issue such tickets. A lieutenant in the department approved a list of locations where the roads would be blocked for "no less than thirty minutes" and that every car that passed should be stopped. That was the extent of the plan that Sergeant Drew Darby executed between 11:10am and 12:45pm. Desposito argued that giving such unbridled discretion to officers allows them to set up roadblocks intended to target individual motorists. The three-judge appellate panel disagreed.
"There were ample safeguards present in the case now before us," Judge Robert P. Frank wrote for the court. "Sergeant Darby was also required to run the checkpoint for a minimum of 30 minutes. His discretion extended only to the precise time at which he began the checkpoint and the duration of the checkpoint... Sergeant Darby was instructed precisely where and approximately when to set up the roadblock. It would have been virtually impossible for him to target anyone while working within those parameters."
The Virginia court's policies go far beyond those authorized in the 2000 US Supreme Court decision Indianapolis v. Edmond which limited the use of roadblocks to issues of life or death, rejecting use of the technique for drug checkpoints.
"We are particularly reluctant to recognize exceptions to the general rule of individualized suspicion where governmental authorities primarily pursue their general crime control ends," Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote. "Only with respect to a smaller class of offenses, however, is society confronted with the type of immediate, vehicle-bound threat to life and limb that the sobriety checkpoint in Sitz was designed to eliminate."
The Virginia court upheld Desposito's conviction for driving while prohibited to do so under the habitual offender statute. A copy of the decision is available in a 55k PDF file at the source link below.
Source: Desposito v. Virginia (Court of Appeals, State of Virginia, 6/5/2012)
This makes the check points in EFAD come to mind.
but what if the “uninvited guest population” was to complain about this?
Not a trace of irony. This was of course the usual explanation by King George's men, which was what led directly to the Fourth Amendment.
I once got off Interstate 664 on Chestnut Avenue in Newport News, at one of the worst neighborhoods in Virginia to get around traffic congestion. At the bottom of the exit ramp was a “gun and drug” checkpoint, I kid you not. When I was stopped I was asked why I was there and they threatened to search my trunk because a white guy getting off at that exit must be there for drugs and I told them it was none of there business why I was getting off at the exit.
How did that turn out for you? I’m presuming they waved you on through with a snarl and a dirty look?
I was thinking the COPs warmed up rubber gloves and KY. You know how unhappy they get when you question their authority/motives.
Pretty much. Looked around my car for what was in plain view and asked to search the trunk, which I refused. I wasn’t in a rush to get home from work and it was a nice day so was fully prepared to wait for him to call in for a warrant if necessary, but he let me go with the snarl.
Oh they are, it’s racism of course, google for “undocumented immigrant” plus “checkpoint” and you have your pick. This is a typical article, which itself is typical of the “racism first and foremost” accusation the illegals always make:
California DUI Checkpoint Program Targets Undocumented Immigrants
If an individual lives in a certain neighborhood, and they leave home at the same time each day to reach their place of employment, and there are few main roads to that locality, then it would be very easy to set up a road-block to target one individual.
It’s my take that roadblocks are a very inefficient way to exercise law enforcement. You stop 400 cars to catch one guy that has a blood alcohol level of 0.01? Big whoop.
What about the schedules of all those people who needed to be somewhere? What are their rights? What is the effect on a person who may be responding to a moderate emergency in their lives? They’re twenty cars back in a long line, and can’t proceed to their destination?
Some of these judges act as if they never lived a life like the rest of us have?
“the Virginia courts presume that warrantless and suspicionless searches of motorists is acceptable as long as it is done in the name of safety.”
Do they also carry SS “Warrant Disc” for those times a road-block is just too much trouble?
“According to the Virginia Auditor of Public Accounts, safety sticker tickets generated $12.5 million in 2010.”
Oh, OK, it’s only fascism in support of an unofficial tax not supported by the public vote!
“The Virginia court’s policies go far beyond those authorized in the 2000 US Supreme Court decision Indianapolis v. Edmond which limited the use of roadblocks to issues of life or death, rejecting use of the technique for drug checkpoints.”
SCOTUS decision limiting searches? We don need no stinkin SCOTUS decision limiting our searches!
Scratch Virginia from any list of states I would live in, or even visit.
What, you never heard of the SS warrant disc?
I thought the same thing as I read the article.
Oh well! It looks like, Tennessee, here I come! I won't abide a police-state state.
Commonwealth of Virginia, you have completely let me down. Completely. I thought you approved of Death to Tyrants. You have become one.
It's for your own damn good, slave. You are lucky we still leave you 3/5th of your freedom. Count the days until it is all gone, underlings.
Vee need to zee your papers pleeze. Ya, vunderbar. Your Vaterland is happy to zee you zafe and zound.
” You stop 400 cars to catch one guy that has a blood alcohol level of 0.01? Big whoop. “
It is a ‘big whoop’ when, in the course of stopping 400 to catch one, they can also write 400+ citations for License/Registration/Insurance violations (Your papers are not in order!!) and/or seatbelts, tail lights, and other ‘safety’ violations...
We’re talking *Revenue*, here!!!
Virginia was going to be my retirement state where I could live in relative freedom after spending 60 years living in California. Not any more. The Commonwealth of Virginia is now dead to me. Death to Tyrants!
Took me a while to figure out what that was. I haven’t flown in 20 years and I don’t plan to resume anytime soon.
Thanks for the comments. I agree with them.
I’m okay. Just taking a small breather after Romney blocking our dreams for another four to eight years.
Here we go with the George Bush third and possibly fourth terms. Just damn!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Founding Fathers, members of the military, I am so sorry for the price you paid, only to see your fellow citizens surrender what you purchased for us.
I suspect it is going to get worse before it gets better, about the only positive thing I can say about Romney is that it doesn’t appear that he hates America as does 0bama. Will he be an improvement over the Kenyan chucklehead if he wins?
Probably, in the same way that Gorbachev was an improvement over the likes of Andropov and Chernenko.
I won’t consider flying if I can get their by car in 10 hours or less. I probably would not consider flying for a drive under 18 hours. I live near Sacramento, CA. I don’t think I would consider flying if I had to go to an event in Montana, Wyoming, Colorodo or New Mexico. Between there and the Mississippi would be a toss up. I probably would fly if I had to travel east of the Mississippi River.
Then again... I might not. I might just drive. You can get from San Francisco to the east coast in 4 easy days. Or 3 long ones. That would be worth it to me to avoid the TSA Nazis.
Yeah, I think you’ve described it about right.
Course, you have to admit what Gorbachev did to his own nation too. Whether I agree with their old ideology or not, he sold his nation out in a manner of speaking. (I also think he could be described as improving the lives of his own people over all too though.)
Is Romney poised for the Gorbachev role here? Something to think about...
BTW: I don’t think Romney has a visceral hatred for the core of our nation, like Obama does.
Everyday it becomes more apparent to instruct fascist judges that they only have the protection we’re willing to extend them by our graces.
Any sheriff who engages in this crap needs to be voted out by the citizenry.
I have a pro-second amendment, constitutional sheriff in my county. He’s instructing women how to get armed and shoot the bad guys.
Get involved in your local elections, FReepers. Make your neighborhood safe from left-wing Nazi judges. Once your elected sheriff has control, the left-wing judges have no more protection than that which the sheriff is willing to extend.