Tomorrow the Senate Business and Transportation Committee will be hearing Senate Bill 13.
This bill will authorize warrantless stops of vehicles in the name of "sobriety checkpoints."
You may wonder why this should matter to you. After all, you don't drive drunk and you don't want others to either. And neither do we. But the devil is in the details.
First of all, there is no reason to believe that stopping drivers who have done nothing to cause suspicion is a productive use of scarce police resources. Police manning roadblocks are NOT out on the road watching for impaired drivers. They ARE stopping lots of people who have done nothing wrong and questioning them.
But it's important to understand how dangerous these kinds of intrusions can be. The bill calls for following "guidelines issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the publication titled "The Use of Sobriety Checkpoints for Impaired DrivingEnforcement" (DOT HS 807 656, November 1990)."
Take a look at Pages A-2 and A-3 of the document.
Page A-2 instructs police at roadblocks to:
"Be observant of the interior of the vehicle for alcoholic beverage containers, drug paraphernalia or other contraband, such as weapons, that are in plain view."
Page A-3 calls for "searches" when "legally permissible."
Most of us believe we have nothing to hide from the police so why fear a "search?"
The current legislature has a majority of anti-gun members. Our incoming governor is every bit as opposed to gun rights as the outgoing one was, and as you know, in other states, guns and magazines that were owned legally for generations suddenly became contraband.
The Oregon Constitution says : "No law shall violate the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses,papers, and effects, against unreasonable search, or seizure; and no warrant shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath, or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person or thing to be seized."
This bill is calling for a Constitutional Amendment to change that to allow warrantless roadblocks. This is a dangerous precedent for all Oregonians and particularly gun owners in the current environment.
Please contact the members of the Senate Business and Transportation Committee and expression your objection to any bill that allows you to be stopped by the police arbitrarily when there is no indication of any wrong doing on your part.
Sample message follows:
I strongly object to any legislation that would limit or erode my rights under the Oregon Constitution to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. SB 13, in conjunction with SJR 3, would do just that. I urge you to oppose those measures in committee and in every step of the process.
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