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Old 02-24-2017, 09:43 AM
HeyHomie HeyHomie is online now
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A Question About Constitutional/Un-Constitutional Searches

Yesterday afternoon I was driving on eastbound I-44, about 70 miles west of St. Louis, when I came up on an exit that takes you to this little town where there's not much going on (no places to eat, get gas, or any of that; just a town).

About a quarter mile before the exit, there were about four official-looking, reflective highway signs. "CHECKPOINT 1/4 MILE AHEAD. DRUG DOGS IN USE. ALL VEHICLES SUBJECT TO SEARCH." (The checkpoint was apparently at the end of the exit ramp.)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but cops can't just search every vehicle with a drug dog just because that vehicle took a specific exit, can they? At the airport, you can decide that getting on the plane isn't worth ditching your gun, and you can turn around and go home and figure out a way to get to Ypsilanti without flying. But you don't have the option of not going to This Missouri Town if you live there or have business there. If they try to stop you, can you put up a fuss based on your 4th Amendment rights?
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Old 02-24-2017, 09:52 AM
dolphinboy dolphinboy is online now
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Perhaps it varies by jurisdiction, but where I live LEO can set up checkpoints wherever they want and require you to pull over. Before they can search you or your car they have to have reasonable cause to believe you are either impaired or that you may be carrying illegal substances. Dogs can walk around your car and sniff for drugs. They can look inside your car for drug paraphernalia with their flashlight. They don't have a right to tear apart your car for no reason.

Last edited by dolphinboy; 02-24-2017 at 09:54 AM.
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Old 02-24-2017, 10:26 AM
puddleglum puddleglum is online now
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Police can currently search any car they pull over with a drug dog. What they cannot do is to extend the stop waiting for the dog to arrive or pull someone over without a reason.
It may be that the police are not actually pulling people over but looking for cars who suddenly pull off the road before the stop.
  #4  
Old 02-24-2017, 10:50 AM
kayaker kayaker is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HeyHomie View Post
About a quarter mile before the exit, there were about four official-looking, reflective highway signs. "CHECKPOINT 1/4 MILE AHEAD. DRUG DOGS IN USE. ALL VEHICLES SUBJECT TO SEARCH." (The checkpoint was apparently at the end of the exit ramp.)
I saw that trick being run on 95 north out of Florida. I remember thinking that there was no way they could possibly be checking all the cars traveling north.

Sure enough, as we passed a tiny exit before the "checkpoint" I saw a car pulled over and the occupants all cuffed, face-down on the ground.
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Old 02-24-2017, 11:07 AM
doorhinge doorhinge is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HeyHomie View Post
.....About a quarter mile before the exit, there were about four official-looking, reflective highway signs. "CHECKPOINT 1/4 MILE AHEAD. DRUG DOGS IN USE. ALL VEHICLES SUBJECT TO SEARCH." (The checkpoint was apparently at the end of the exit ramp.)
(post shortened)

Was this a public safety checkpoint (headlights, taillights, seatbelts, tires, drunks) that also included the use of drug-sniffing K9s?

A police officer's walking a drug sniffing dog around the outside your car is not illegal or unconstitutional.
  #6  
Old 02-24-2017, 11:50 AM
HeyHomie HeyHomie is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doorhinge View Post
(post shortened)

Was this a public safety checkpoint (headlights, taillights, seatbelts, tires, drunks) that also included the use of drug-sniffing K9s?

A police officer's walking a drug sniffing dog around the outside your car is not illegal or unconstitutional.
Best I can figure, the police department at This Missouri Town just decided they'd check every car for drugs that got off at the exit that day (or at least, for however long they felt like doing it).
  #7  
Old 02-24-2017, 12:28 PM
MikeF MikeF is offline
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It could have been a ruse. Put such signs up in a location where the motorist has to either continue to the non-existent check point or commit a motor vehicle violation (illegal u-turn or backing down the shoulder to previous exit) and stop the car for that. Then start asking questions. But an actual checkpoint where cars are being searched without probable cause? Nope.

Also, police cannot search any stopped car with a drug dog. Generally, they may walk the dog around the outside of the car but not insist that doors be opened or actually put the dog in the passenger compartment.

Last edited by MikeF; 02-24-2017 at 12:29 PM.
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Old 02-24-2017, 01:24 PM
Ravenman Ravenman is offline
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There was a somewhat similar policy in DC that was ruled unconstitutional a while back:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...071002750.html
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Old 02-24-2017, 03:10 PM
ftg ftg is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
There was a somewhat similar policy in DC that was ruled unconstitutional a while back:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...071002750.html
I note that they weren't just stopping cars, they were questioning drivers about their reasons for being in the area.

Courts have upheld DUI checking roadblocks. But they have to be careful who they check. Checking everyone is good. Every 3rd driver is okayish. "Random" checks is subject to abuse and not permitted.
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Old 02-24-2017, 03:19 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is online now
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While the Feds don't seem to have a problem with stopping everyone that goes by state law may prevail as it does here in Rhode Island. The state courts have ruled this practice as unconstitutional and I don't think the FBI would be setting up any checkpoints that would bring up a challenge. Still, I'd never underestimate the power of fear to overturn any existing restrictions on the practice.
  #11  
Old 02-24-2017, 07:53 PM
Trinopus Trinopus is offline
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There's a cute scam where a Fire Department official may make a safety inspection without needing a warrant. He can come in to your home and cite you for, say, having a bunch of old turpentine-soaked rags by your workbench.

He can also notice the stash of drugs on your kitchen table, and report that to the police.

So the police have been known to use Firemen as "stalking horses" in this way.

The good news is that, while you cannot refuse to allow a Fire Department safety inspection, you don't have to allow it right now. You can have it scheduled for later.
  #12  
Old 02-24-2017, 11:29 PM
UltraVires UltraVires is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HeyHomie View Post
Yesterday afternoon I was driving on eastbound I-44, about 70 miles west of St. Louis, when I came up on an exit that takes you to this little town where there's not much going on (no places to eat, get gas, or any of that; just a town).

About a quarter mile before the exit, there were about four official-looking, reflective highway signs. "CHECKPOINT 1/4 MILE AHEAD. DRUG DOGS IN USE. ALL VEHICLES SUBJECT TO SEARCH." (The checkpoint was apparently at the end of the exit ramp.)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but cops can't just search every vehicle with a drug dog just because that vehicle took a specific exit, can they? At the airport, you can decide that getting on the plane isn't worth ditching your gun, and you can turn around and go home and figure out a way to get to Ypsilanti without flying. But you don't have the option of not going to This Missouri Town if you live there or have business there. If they try to stop you, can you put up a fuss based on your 4th Amendment rights?
This is a common ruse. The police may not legally conduct random narcotics stops, but count on criminals not knowing this.

The idea is that the person who has drugs in the car sees the sign and takes the exit believing it to be his only chance at evading detection. He stops at the end of the exit ramp and throws his drugs out the window: all the while being watched by a police officer hidden near the exit ramp.

There is no checkpoint.
  #13  
Old 02-25-2017, 12:29 PM
DSYoungEsq DSYoungEsq is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
This is a common ruse. The police may not legally conduct random narcotics stops, but count on criminals not knowing this.

The idea is that the person who has drugs in the car sees the sign and takes the exit believing it to be his only chance at evading detection. He stops at the end of the exit ramp and throws his drugs out the window: all the while being watched by a police officer hidden near the exit ramp.

There is no checkpoint.
Citation for this?
  #14  
Old 02-25-2017, 12:39 PM
UltraVires UltraVires is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSYoungEsq View Post
Citation for this?
Narcotics Checkpoints Unconstitutional:

https://supreme.justia.com/cases/fed...1/32/case.html

Article discussing fake checkpoints and upholding or disallowing various stops after drivers evade the "checkpoints":

http://reason.com/blog/2013/07/02/th...ay-be-legal-bu

Note that it seems that pulling over drivers for simply taking the exit is disallowed, but observing a traffic offense after taking the exit is grounds for a stop.
  #15  
Old 02-25-2017, 01:08 PM
UltraVires UltraVires is offline
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Further, the OP stated this was in Missouri and the article states that Missouri is rather active at these sort of ruses.

Since the exit he described was not one that out of state travelers would typically use, it seems that the police would be extra vigilant at looking at any out of state plates that took the exit as it is very likely that that driver would be attempting to evade the checkpoint he believed existed on the interstate had he continued.
  #16  
Old 02-25-2017, 03:54 PM
mixdenny mixdenny is offline
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A friend of mine tells a great story about a mutual acquaintance. Mike was riding with him right after the guy's car had been savaged by a jilted girlfriend. The lights were busted out, windshield cracked, mirrors hanging by wires, etc.

The highway patrol was conducting safety inspections on a back road and pulling random people over and directing them to a parking lot. Mike saw some empty .45 shells laying around and asked if they would cause any problem. Guy responds, "No, but this might..." and reaches under the seat and produces a handgun in a plastic bag with an "Evidence" tag hanging on it.

The patrolman stares at the wretched car approaching him and jaw open, just waves it by.

Dennis
  #17  
Old 02-25-2017, 04:10 PM
racer72 racer72 is offline
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Want to ride a ferry in Washington state? There is a very good chance a bomb sniffing dog will be walked through the vehicles and walk on passengers waiting to board. Mounties will be doing the same on ferries leaving Washington for points in Canada.
  #18  
Old 02-26-2017, 12:19 PM
DSYoungEsq DSYoungEsq is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
This is a common ruse. The police may not legally conduct random narcotics stops, but count on criminals not knowing this.

The idea is that the person who has drugs in the car sees the sign and takes the exit believing it to be his only chance at evading detection. He stops at the end of the exit ramp and throws his drugs out the window: all the while being watched by a police officer hidden near the exit ramp.

There is no checkpoint.
Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
Narcotics Checkpoints Unconstitutional:

https://supreme.justia.com/cases/fed...1/32/case.html

Article discussing fake checkpoints and upholding or disallowing various stops after drivers evade the "checkpoints":

http://reason.com/blog/2013/07/02/th...ay-be-legal-bu

Note that it seems that pulling over drivers for simply taking the exit is disallowed, but observing a traffic offense after taking the exit is grounds for a stop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
Further, the OP stated this was in Missouri and the article states that Missouri is rather active at these sort of ruses.

Since the exit he described was not one that out of state travelers would typically use, it seems that the police would be extra vigilant at looking at any out of state plates that took the exit as it is very likely that that driver would be attempting to evade the checkpoint he believed existed on the interstate had he continued.
Your original statement was that cops waited for people to attempt to avoid the checkpoint and watched them throw drugs away. I see no evidence in your citations that shows that this is ever done. It was this assertion I asked you to provide evidence of.
  #19  
Old 02-26-2017, 02:44 PM
UltraVires UltraVires is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSYoungEsq View Post
Your original statement was that cops waited for people to attempt to avoid the checkpoint and watched them throw drugs away. I see no evidence in your citations that shows that this is ever done. It was this assertion I asked you to provide evidence of.
Are you looking for a specific instance where cops have observed someone throwing drugs out the window?

The point I was making is that the checkpoint is a ruse. There is no checkpoint. The purpose is to make a person believe there is a checkpoint and take evasive action by getting off at the exit.

The police are at the exit, carefully observing cars and pulling them over if those cars commit a traffic offense, look suspicious, or do something obvious like throw drugs out the window.

To the extent that I gave the impression that scores of people were lining up at the end of the exit ramp tossing bales of marijuana on the freeway, I misled you. Throwing drugs out the window was meant as one example of the type of evasive action the police are looking for when constructing these fake checkpoints.
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