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Drunk driving survey causes constitutional controversy (2 of 2)

As we began discussing in the last post, many individuals and rights advocates are not happy about a government survey on impaired driving that's currently being conducted throughout the country.

Federal transportation officials say the National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drugged Driving provides them with vital statistics, but even the government admits in internal documents that the procedure is "not routine by any means."

The survey involves pulling over cars at random and asking drivers to submit to questioning about how often they drink or use drugs and drive. The drivers are also asked to take a Breathalyzer test and are offered money to agree to more invasive testing and additional survey questions.

Participation in the survey is voluntary, and drivers who admit to being drunk or who fail Breathalyzer tests are not arrested; they are given a ride home or put up in a motel. But even some police departments have declined to help with the survey, questioning its legality.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that police officers need probable cause to pull over drivers, although there is an exception for DUI checkpoints that meet certain requirements. The Court reasoned that the government's desire to get drunk drivers off of the roads outweighs any violation of rights that may come along with DUI checkpoints.

However, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union said the survey-related traffic stops violate people's rights because "there's no sufficient reason for making people pull over and talk to government officials in the first place."

What do you think? Does the government have a legitimate interest in pulling over cars randomly in order to conduct the study? Is it still a violation of rights if no charges are filed?

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

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