DEA wants to shoot every car passing through SW corner of Utah

If DEA calls it a 'drug corridor,' is that good enough reason to eliminate the 4th Amendment?

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That's true; they could. But a deputy wouldn't photograph every single plate, OCR every single picture or build a database chronicling every trip by every single vehicle, whether driven by felons or nuns, up and down the western-Utah border.

Police and the DEA are full of assurances the technology and ability it represents won't do any damage to the privacy of Utah residents or violate any major rules. The data would only be used if the plate is recognized or if there were an incident involving a car that had been photographed – an accident or murder, for example.

Unfortunately, the whole design, from start to finish, of ALPRs is unconstitutional. By photographing, recording and identifying every license plate as it goes by Utah's police agencies would be doing the equivalent of a daily strip search of every resident in every car that passes by.

Giving police open access to the information – which nearly every similar database has proven will be used for abuse of the privelege– is equivalent to allowing them to search ever car and driver, or at least pull them over to ask for a license.

The 4 th Amendment was written to prevent police from setting up roadblocks, new technology, bottlenecks on a public throughway or other non-specific means of looking for a bad guy.

Only if they have due cause to believe a driver is up to something can cops in the U.S. stop and search a car – or even photograph it, profile the driver and file the results.

Checking every single car as it goes by is more efficient than picking and choosing, once you set up the system.

But checking every person, car bicycle, horse, donkey, mule or ass who walks by, even if some of them are hardened criminals who are an unquestioned threat to the people of the state, is not the way to do it. Not the legal way.

So far, however, the most cogent argument against it came from Utah Senate President Michael Waddoups, who seems to sense there is a real problem in the kill-them-all-let-God-sort-them-out approach to search and seizure, but doesn't quite get what it is:

"It’s not against the law to drive down I-15 from Utah to Nevada to gamble, "Waddoups said in objecting to the exposure of citizens and violations of privacy that are certain to happen under the new system. " but there are a lot of Utahns that would be pretty embarrassed by that."

Could be, Mr. Senate President. Could be.

Not embarrassing your constituents is a good decision for a politician; telling federal agencies 'No' when they ask to decertify part of the Constitution in one corner of your state is better.

Photo Credit: 

Utah Dept. of Transportation

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