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Drunk driving survey causes constitutional controversy (1 of 2)

Anyone who has ever been stopped at a DUI checkpoint in Colorado knows how scary the experience can be -- even though you have a right to refuse voluntary roadside testing.

Now imagine if you are stopped at what appears to be a law enforcement-sponsored DUI checkpoint only to find out that you are being asked to participate in a survey on impaired driving. You may feel annoyed, anxious and perhaps that your rights have been violated.

That's how many people across the country have said that they've felt after being stopped and asked to participate in the National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drugged Driving. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration claims the survey is crucial to safety planning as it gives officials an idea on how many people are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

But many individuals and rights advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union, are questioning the government's authority to pull people over and pepper them with questions without cause.

In fact, at least one lawsuit has been filed by a driver who says that he wasn't given the opportunity to decide whether or not to stop for the survey, which is completely voluntary.

The driver alleges that one survey worker stepped in front of his car before another rattled off personal questions and asked for a saliva sample.

The lawsuit claims that it was an abuse of power for the surveyors to use a uniformed police officer and the flashing lights of a squad car to coerce drivers to stop and participate in the survey, which has been conducted five times since 1973.

Check back later this week for more on this issue, including what the ACLU thinks about the way the survey is handled.

Source: Associated Press, Roadside survey of impaired driving causes outcry, Michael Rubinkam, Feb. 20, 2014

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