Escondido Councilwomen, Olga Diaz, has been opposed to the city’s traffic enforcement checkpoints and has asked state Attorney General Jerry Brown to confirm that these checkpoints are conducted in a constitutional manner by the police department.
The primary purpose of the Escondido traffic checkpoints are to check the validity of the drivers license of the drivers. The procedure goes as follows, first the police block off a road and check all passing vehicles, they check for two main things, other than driving without a license. First they see whether or not the picture matches the person who is driving the vehicle, secondly, they check to see if the license has expired. They do not check any other documents to prevent traffic backups. Are these traffic checkpoints constitutional? Remember our Constitutional Rights to be free from governmental intrusion!
Supporters of the traffic checkpoints argue that the state law prevents checking the drivers license while officers are on patrol, but states nothing about checkpoints dedicated to the checking of the drivers license. The US Supreme Court has never ruled that driver license checkpoints are unconstitutional. They have ruled as long as the checkpoints are conducted in a constitutional manner by law enforcement then they have a right to continue the checkpoints. Patricia Bennett, founder of the Citizens of Escondido Road Safety is a strong supporter of the police checkpoints. She sates, “We all have to abide by the law, “I want to get everyone who is unlicensed and uninsured off the road.” Its true that these checkpoints are bringing unlicensed and uninsured drivers off the streets but are they being done in a fair way? Absolutely not! The ends do not justify the means in constitutional analysis!
People opposed to traffic checkpoints argue that they are unconstitutional and are unfairly placed in Latino communities. No surprise, a big opponent to the checkpoints is the Latino community within Escondido who say that these checkpoints are targeting their all the person’s in their communities. How many traffic checkpoints are set up in the white or upper class areas of Del Mar or Carlsbad? Latino civil rights groups are also upset because the goal of these checkpoints is to catch those driving without a license, and many of these people are illegal immigrants.
The main question we are faced with is that these checkpoints under law are legal, but are they being conducted in a fair way, or are they fair to even begin with? Please remember, we ALL have the right to be free from unlawful search and seizure from police! These traffic checkpoints as conducted violate our rights to be free from governmental intrusion and should be stopped! Thank you councilwoman Diaz for your courage to take a stand protecting everyone’s rights! But please don’t hold your breath for the result you want from the States Attorney General, another government law enforcement official!
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ESCONDIDO: Diaz wants attorney general’s opinion on checkpoints, North County Times April 3, 2010