A drug dog checkpoint on I-80? Wheres the legality?

I was recently driving from Colorado back to Illinois… In nebraska, on I-80, a generally busy highway, there were flags and signs that said “Drug dog checkpoint ahead” With numerous signs appearing for about a mile. My exit was before the “checkpoint” so i didnt get to see whether or not it was a hoax… is this legal? With an many cars as I saw on I-80 I figure a checkpoint like that will take too much time. I’ve never heard of this drug dog checkpoint until I saw it.

Perhaps there was no checkpoint at all, and the signs were simply meant to flush out anyone who was obviously trying to avoid the checkpoint. In that case, there would likely be police watching the exits before the supposed checkpoint, looking for drivers who suddenly and dangerously attempted to exit the interstate after seeing the signs.

They used to have those along I-95 in Florida. The signs said “Narcotics Inspection Ahead” but what they were watching for were the cars suddenly leaving the interstate. I don’t know exactly how they decided which cars were just getting off because it was their exit, and which ones were trying to get away from the “inspection,” but supposedly it worked for big drug busts.

But… but… I thought drug dogs were legal? :slight_smile:

We had that exact thing here on I-30.

We have a fairly sharp turn on the interstate that has a really steep exit in the middle of the curve and you can’t see the bottom of the hill from the interstate, perfect for hiding 10 patrol cars. There is no other exit for several miles. Several times I’ve seen really big signs 1/2 mile or so ahead of the exit - DRUG SEARCH ROADBLOCK ONE MILE AHEAD. Pretty much exactly as BiblioCat describes above, people who exited for no apparent reason were, I’m sure, searched.

Yes, it’s one of those weird quantum twists in the law. Police are faced with the pesky inconvenience of not being able to just search everybody without probable cause [Homer Simpson Voice] Stupid constitution! [/hsv] However, it’s perfectly legal for them to lie to you, saying that they’re going to search everybody. If a driver falls for the ruse and panics, then BINGO! probable cause!

The law is fascinating. It’s a little amusing, too, if you’re not the one whose car is being taken apart by the side of the road. I’d hate to be the guy who simply had to stop and take an emergency leak.

Huh, I’ve never heard of such a thing in Nebraska. I’m surprised more Nebraskans haven’t raised a stink about it. Not because they’re civil libertarians or anything, but just because they enjoy raising a stink.

I-80 is a major drug route, and the Nebraska State Patrol makes headlines for huge drug busts fairly often. I’m not sure what this particular tactic is supposed to do; generally the drug-runners are complete idiots and basically drive down the road with “DRUGS INSIDE!” flags attached to their cars.

What constitutes an “apparent reason”, and how do you determine it just by looking at a vehicle? Hundreds of cars use those exits every day, and I challenge you to distinguish between them (unless they break the law) so as to establish probable cause to search them.

There’s a checkpoint like this permanently installed on I-10 in West Texas out near Van Horn. It’s out in the middle of nowhere. I believe it’s run by the INS but it may be state troopers. They say they’re searching for illegal immigrants (cue Indigo Girls…) but they’ll happily bust you for drugs too. I haven’t been through there in years but judging by my experience, a 1963 Cadillac and a leather jacket constitutes probable cause for a complete search.

I’m not wading into the probable cause debate, I don’t like these checkpoints either, I’m just reporting the facts.

To answer your question the best I can… this exit isn’t use by 100’s of people every day. The exit is the middle of nowhere and leads to nowhere. There are no services such as gas stations, convenience stores, anything within at least a few miles of this exit. There is nothing in any direction except farmland. If 100 cars a day use this exit I’d be shocked, more like 40, maybe. If you don’t live very close or are visiting friends near there, there isn’t any real reason you would want to exit.

The Supreme Court ruled several years ago (someone back me up with a cite) that the police could stop cars and do a cursory search as long as (and here is the catch) they stopped all the cars. I remember being stopped on I-10 and being told by the driver of the car not to say, “Thank you for violating my constitutional rights.” “Please don’t say anything. This is my car.” I didn’t say anything. The police were just checking that we were white. Sometimes I hate this country.

I did some dog-running back in the sixties. I was a regular dog mule, for a while. I had to stop when the market shifted to Great Danes and I couldn’t swallow any more latex puppy packets.

They are, but not when they’re driving under the influence. :smiley:

There’s a permanent immigration checkpoint on interstate 5 in California, north of San Diego. They stop and “inspect” every vehicle… which for passenger cars usually means nothing more than slowing down so that the nice immigre can look at everyone inside. (But like micco, I’m sure they’ll be happy to bust you for smuggling drugs as well as for smuggling aliens.)

The thing about this checkpoint, though, is that it’s smack in the middle of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, which runs for about 20 miles along I-5 and a good 20 or 30 miles from the coast inland…

In other words, if you don’t exit at Oceanside, then there’s nowhere to get off the freeway.

And for the white emigrants fleeing to Mexico, looking for better working conditions, your last exit is the anglo hell hole of San Clemente. :wink:

Just to make it clear, I wasn’t busted for anything. I was clean, but apparently not clean-cut.

It seemed like I came very close to getting executed; the LEO went for his gun when I took a step toward him to answer his questions due to noise of passing traffic. I was very polite and agreed to let them search even after they’d confirmed that my passenger and I were as American as could be. I even offered to let them open the wrapped Christmas packages in the trunk when they got overly interested in those. The event only sticks in my memory because it would have made for a lousy holiday to get gunned down by an anxious officer doing an unfounded search on the border between nowhere and nowhere-else.

Nebraska is in the Eighth Circuit, and the controlling case there concerning roadblocks is U.S. v. Williams, – F.3d – (Eigth Cir. 2004). (warning: large PDF)

Very briefly, the case concerned a man who exited upon seeing a “drug checkpoint ahead” sign for a checkpoint that didn’t actually exist. As he was exiting, Williams ran a stop sign. A police officer stopped him for running the stop sign, and asked for and received consent to search the vehicle. The search turned up 593 pounds of marijuana.

Williams argued that the stop was a violation of the Fourth Amendment under the SCOTUS case of Indianapolis v. Edmond, 531 US 32 (2000), which held that although searches within 100 miles of the border for illegal aliens (United States v. Martinez-Fuerte, 428 US 543 (1976)) and brief sobriety checkpoints (Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz, 496 US 444 (1990)) are constituionally acceptable to serve the special purposes of protecting the borders and the safety of the highways, a random drug checkpoint “whose primary purpose was to detect evidence of ordinary criminal wrongdoing” was violative of the Fourth Amendment. What’s more, the Eighth Circuit had already said in U.S. v. Yousif, 308 F.3d 820 (8th Cir. 2002), that a stop of all persons exiting a ramp after a sign announcing a drug checkpoint was also unconstitutional, since many people may exit for “wholly innocent purposes.”

Here, the court said, the situation was different–not only did individual suspicion arise when Williams (1) took the exit and (2) ran a stop sign doing so, probable cause arose as well. Even if the court had not found probable cause existed, the stop could have been upheld as a “pretext stop”–it’s long been acceptable for the police to follow someone they suspect of illegal activity around until they violate a minor traffic law and attempt to use the stop to gain probable cause or consent to search. For the life of me I’ll never understand why someone with 593 pounds of pot in their car would consent to a police search.

Oh, yeah–the above post is not intended as legl advice, I am not your lawyer, you are not my client.


Umm…he was too high to think straight?

Sometimes these questions just answer themselves.

Well, we live in Louisiana where we have our own brand of law :rolleyes: Mr. Adoptamom is 6’7" and used to sport long hair and a mid chest length beard. He’s self employed as a residential carpenter and used to haul a tool trailer behind his truck. In a podunk town near us that Mr. Adoptamom was building a house in, the long arm of the law decided that Mr. Adoptamom looked like a drug user/dealer so they began stopping him several times a month, emptying all of his tools out of the trailer onto the roadside while making him stand spread eagled by his truck during the search.

The officers justified forcing him to stand spread eagled because they were a bit intimidated by his size and didn’t want him to do anything violent :rolleyes: This went on until I finally picked up the phone and called my ex-brother-in-law to complain. He happened to be the Mayor of said rinky dink town and he put an immediate stop to their bullshit. Afterwards, Mr. Adoptamom got polite tips of the hat from the law whenever he traveled that way :cool: Gotta love southern justice at its best!

About 6 years ago, my wife and I went to Texas for a wedding. We drove down to Big Bend National Park as a side trip. A very long side trip.

Never went into Mexico.

On our way back out of Big Bend (we camped there for three days), on a two lane highway we ran into a ‘Border Patrol’ station. I was stunned. We were about 60 miles from the border and I thought that a border patrol station would be at the border.

My wife and I had a shit load of stuff in our SUV. It was a long road trip that involved a wedding and camping on the Texas coast and in Big Bend.

I have never seen any one so serious as the guy’s at the ‘Border Patrol’ station. They had MP3’s (sub-machine guns) and a side arm. It was a real shocker. This was way before 9/11.

I really wondered why these guys had to be so heavily armed. We where out in the middle of no-where. Would a drug smuggler really be so stupid as to try run one of these stations? There was NO where to go.

It bugs me to this day.