It seems like every time there is a terrible tragedy, a cliche of a light bulb suddenly lights up in every politician’s mind and a thought bubble materializes over each politician’s head that reads: “bingo… I got an ‘NEW’ idea… how about a BRAND NEW LAW law?” Unfortunately, this less than novel approach occurs year after year after year.
The result? Nothing. Nothing aside from placing more limitations on the freedoms of law abiding citizens.
For example, some politicians are still stuck on the idea of warrantless, suspicionless, random DUI checkpoints. While no one wants to be on the road with those that are impaired, certainly no one wants to be caught in an “artificial” traffic jam. And we do need to stop think about protecting and not sacrificing our constitutional freedoms.
It is ironic how our elected “lawmakers” make laws that violate the law. The law in Washington is article I, section 7. It reads “NO PERSON SHALL BE DISTURBED IN HIS PRIVATE AFFAIRS, OR HIS HOME INVADED, WITHOUT AUTHORITY OF LAW.” That “authority of law” is a warrant. Any warrantless stop, seizure, or search is presumed illegal. Period. This is the law. And it is well settled that this law, article I, section 7, provides greater protection than the Fourth Amendment than the United State’s constitution.
The heritage and values of Washingtonians, regardless of political persuasion, place a high premium on freedom and liberty.
The Washington Supreme Court has already clearly ruled that random, warrantless, DUI checkpoints are unconstitutional.
In Seattle v. Mesiani, 110 Wash.2d 454, 755 P.2d 775 (1988), the city of Seattle argued that the state’s interest in the legal operation of automobiles defeats ANY privacy interest under article 1, section 7. Wow. Fortunately, the Supreme Court found the city’s position to be “without support in either our cases or the language or logic of our constitution.”
So why do politicians continue to insist that we should have field sobriety checkpoints although it has been clearly held that it violates the constitution? Simple. They have no better ideas. Or they do not respect the constitution or the fundamental rights of the people.
Consider the NSA spying program and other power hungry policies like where a member of the executive branch can order a drone strike to kill an American citizen without due process or a fair trial. The people need to become less politically apathetic and more aware. We need to have a constitutional, civil and political reawakening. Some laws may sound “good.” Some laws may appear to stand on the “moral” high ground. But the people need to consider our precious freedoms and rights. We have already lost hundred of miles. We cannot afford to give another inch. I am sure other feasible approaches exist that may address our problems aside from passing laws that curtail freedoms (e.g. random warrantless sobriety checkpoints, requiring biological testing or ankle bracelets BEFORE due process is afforded at a fair trial).
Education is one area that should be considered as an alternative.
It is ironic that we make great efforts to inform individuals about DUI laws and DUI sentencing grid ONLY AFTER a person gets a DUI. Millions of teenagers, adolescence, and adults are TOTALLY IGNORANT of the consequences of a DUI (in terms of lives lost, painful injuries, sentencing, employment consequences, entry into Canada or other countries, and costs and financial issues that surround DUIs). Laws are more effective when people are aware and understand them.
Recall sex education where many were exposed to the reality of STDs and the gruesome and painfully detailed pictures of venereal diseases? Recall learning about abstinence, monogamy, safe sex, and condom use? And recall that such education was provided at an appropriate age (unlike DARE)? Why not make such efforts with DUI?
Instead of slapping a single video in during a driver’s ed class or having a member of MADD come in on a single occasion and tell a story, it might be helpful to incorporate into curriculum a reasonable section about DUI laws, consequences, and making good life choices. It makes no sense to pass laws year after year after year when NO ONE LEARNS ABOUT THEM other than the politicians who pass them, lawyers, and defendants who become informed after the fact.
Less laws that abridge our constitutional freedoms and more in depth education is one idea politicians should consider.