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Supreme Court Puts Up Roadblocks to Drug Enforcement (From Policing and the Law, P 43-52, 2002, Jeffrey T. Walker, ed. -- See NCJ-193352)

NCJ Number
James W. Golden; Amy C. VanHouten
Date Published
10 pages
In this chapter, an examination was conducted on the police expansion of the Supreme Court’s “automobile exception” ruling in the use of roadblocks to detect and control the flow of drugs and the recent Supreme Court decision in handling this expanded enforcement technique.
In 1925, the Supreme Court authorized police to conduct warrantless searches of automobiles thought to contain evidence of a crime. This was known as the "automobile exception." Since this time, the automobile exception has been expanded as police have developed new tactics and the use of the automobile by criminals has expanded. One such tactic is the use of roadblocks by police. Roadblocks are utilized for general enforcement and specifically to control the smuggling of drugs. However, in Indianapolis v. Edmond (2000), the Supreme Court addressed the legality of a checkpoint whose purpose was the discovery and interdiction of illegal narcotics. It was determined that the checkpoint program in Indianapolis was operating only with the intent of crime control and was in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. The Court finding prohibited checkpoints for the purpose of detecting evidence from general criminal activity. Under the Edmond ruling, checkpoints and their legal ramifications are discussed in regards to illegal immigrants, sobriety checkpoints, and random checks for license and registration. The Court declared that there must be a legitimate governmental interest beyond a general interest in crime control to hold a vehicle checkpoint. In addition to prohibiting checkpoints having only a general crime control interest, the Court placed police officers on notice that it will carefully monitor the use of vehicular registration checkpoint to make sure it is not being used as a pretext for generalized intrusion. References


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