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Senators: DUI Checkpoints apps are “harmful to public safety”

Four U.S. Senators have written letters to Google, Apple and RIM asking them to stop offering apps that would help possible drunk drivers avoid the police because it is a threat to the safety of others. Several apps claim to offer a service that alerts the user when they are close to a DUI checkpoint. The only company to respond, RIM, has agreed to pull the DUI checkpoint apps from its store. It is nice to see that Google and Apple are willing to stand up to these Senators. Clearly, this is a First Amendment Issue.

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Random Boat Stops and the 4th Amendment

§ 31.124 of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code states, “an enforcement officer may stop and board a vessel . . . and may inspect the boat” to determine whether it is in compliance with the various provisions of the Code.

What this means for the average lake-goer is that an officer has the power to stop his or her boat without probable cause or a reasonable suspicion to believe that a crime has been or is about to be committed. Basically, a law enforcement officer may board any boat, for absolutely any reason and, once aboard, may legally come into contact with evidence of a possible crime, like boating while intoxicated.

The Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas recently discussed whether or not this statute violates the 4th Amendment’s ban on illegal searches. The court held in Schenekl v. State that it does not.

It may be difficult to understand how a random stop, unsupported by probable cause, could be constitutional. The court, in making this determination, applied a two-prong test, weighing the State’s interest in the search against the individual’s right to personal security free from arbitrary interference by law enforcement. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sobriety (DWI) Checkpoints are illegal, but is there a local agency ignoring that?

The Williamson County Attorney’s office is investigating a complaint of an illegal sobriety checkpoint near Interstate 35 last month.

A woman said people appearing to be police officers stopped her at about 11 p.m. Jan. 20 along on the westbound access road of FM 1431 at I-35 in Round Rock, County Attorney Jana Duty said.

While the County Attorney is treating this as a fake sobriety checkpoint, merely because the relevant agencies are denying that they did it, I am not so sure.

The men, claiming to be police officers, pulled over several cars Jan. 20 at I-35 and 1431, near the new Ikea store in Round Rock.

It was about 11 p.m. on Jan. 20 when at least one woman was pulled over by two men claiming to be police officers.

The witness reported that two police cars, one with lights on top and one unmarked, had closed a lane of traffic on FM 1431 and had stopped three to four cars. A man who said he was a police officer approached the woman’s car and told her the stop was a checkpoint to search for drunk drivers. Read the rest of this entry »

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