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Drivers Say Drunk Driving Survey Violated The Fourth Amendment

Most people in Monmouth County recognize that they have certain rights that the government can’t violate. Of course there are the rights that everyone knows, like the right to free speech or to the free exercise of religion, but the Fourth Amendment is just as important. The Fourth Amendment says that the government may not search or seize an individual and his or her things without a warrant. Of course, there are some exceptions to this, but police are required to follow this rule very closely. If they don’t, all of the evidence they collect could be considered tainted and thrown out.

One of those exceptions is if police believe a crime has been committed. This comes up most when New Jersey police stop someone who they believe to be a drunk driver. If they have evidence that could indicate the driver was impaired, they can pull the vehicle over.

With that in mind, news of a nationwide roadside survey may cause some people in Monmouth County some concern. Instead of stopping only people they believed to be intoxicated, police and private contractors working for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stopped a random sampling of people, asking them about their drinking and driving habits, asking them to take a breath test, and offering them money for a saliva or blood test.

Though the stops and tests are described as voluntary, the survey administrators use a device that collects breath samples before a driver has the ability to decline, relying solely on passive alcohol emissions.

At least one person has filed a civil rights lawsuit regarding the survey, and he probably won’t be the only one to do so.

Source: The Daily Mail, “Roadside survey of impaired driving causes outcry,” Michael Rubinkam, Feb. 20, 2014

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