I often fret over the use of roadblocks to enforce alcohol limits while driving. I maintain they are a step away from the ideas that have traditonally underpinned the West’s superior justice system, in that they contravene the principle of suspicion-less searches.
That the authorities must have a clear reason to stop and search is partially designed to remove the opportunity for crooked cops to entrap anyone they might wish to. An effective judge will ask in court ‘why was this man stopped?’, and if there is no reason apparent, then he will throw the case out, for that principle should be paramount in a civilised society.
Random breath tests at police roadblocks completely breach that principle. Anyone and everyone can be stopped and forced to undergo what is essentially a suspicion-less search (blowing in a breathalyser). The NZ Herald reports–
A recently retired policeman says his fellow officers set a failed trap to catch him drink driving on the way home from a sports club. Former Senior Constable Gavin Benney said he was tipped off that his colleagues were waiting to catch him at a breathtesting checkpoint after an evening hockey game and a meal in Whangarei.
He said that although he had not been drinking, he and another police officer took a back road instead and listened to the police radio. “We heard them say; ‘We’ve missed him, he’s gone.’ Then I could hear them looking for me.”
Mr Benney, who quit the force in November 2013, tells the story in a book about his work experiences Country Cop 24/7: The life and times of a rural cop, which goes on sale tomorrow. In the book he describes the incident as “petty but potentially damaging behaviour” by a group who either wanted his job or thought he was given too much leeway in his policing style.
This is a clear example of an intent by police officers to abuse the law, and stop and search and apprehend Mr. Benny for reasons detached from the actual alleged offence. If they can do it to Mr. Benny they can do it to anyone they have a grudge with. Its is tyranny, plain and simple.
Roadblocks for the purpose of random breath testing should stop. There are plenty of other ways to enforce drink driving limits and they are less open to abuse by corrupt cops. Then again, those methods do not do anything to soften the populace up for tyranny, so it would take a major shift in govt thinking to make it happen.