Returning from a trip along one of our nation’s most highly trafficked interstates, I-20, I happened across this foreboding sign. I didn’t have any bud on me at the time, but if you’re anything like me, you usually take a few bowls with you on road trips. Almost instinctively, I pulled over.
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. They were going to shut down the entire interstate to check for suspicious vehicles and persons, as if crossing into Louisiana were crossing the Mexican border? Bienvenue en Louisiane, indeed.
After snapping a few shots of the sign, I pulled back onto the highway, ready to take additional pictures once I arrived at the checkpoint. However, the checkpoint never surfaced. Now I understand why:
The local sheriff’s office had established the signs as a “ruse” to direct motorists to exit off the highway after viewing the warning of the upcoming DUI/Narcotics checkpoint. In fact, there was no checkpoint further down I-40. Instead, the sheriff set up a checkpoint at the end of the ramp of the first exit available to motorists after the posted signs, an exit not frequently used since no services were offered at the exit.
Isn’t that some bullshit?
Here’s another quote from the same court case, expressing the court’s distrust of Narcotics Interdiction Checkpoints. The court explains what we already know — how easily these stops can be abused by officers.
A pretextual roadblock has pitfalls that come perilously close to permitting unfettered government intrusion on the privacy interests of all motorists.
We believe that the danger inherent in pretextual roadblocks is the potential for giving police the authority to stop every car on the road, question its driver and passengers under the guise of a legitimate traffic related purpose, and then claim enough reasonable suspicion through, for example, the driver’s expression or answers, to conduct a more thorough search of the stopped individuals and vehicles for drugs with insufficient limitations on police discretion.
So, if you’re looking to take a trip anytime soon, take heed of the map below and, if you see one of these signs, don’t fucking exit. Want more specifics on these checkpoints? Follow the link over to Barry Cooper’s blog.