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Administrative inspections, which allow privacy intrusions on less than ordinary Fourth Amendment standards, should be carefully limited in time, place and intrusiveness to the underlying safety purpose justifying the intrusion in the first place.

See Marshall v. Barlow’s Inc., 436 U.S. 307, 98 S.Ct. 1816, 56 L.Ed.2d 305 (1978) [OSHA warrants]; U.S. v. Biswell, 406 U.S. 311, 315, 92 S.Ct. 1593, 32 L.Ed.2d 87 (1972) [firearms . . . such searches must be “carefully limited in time, place and scope”]; See See v. City of Seattle, 387 U.S. 541, 87 S.Ct. 1737, 18 L.Ed.2d 943 (1967);

Michigan v. Tyler, 436 U.S. 499, 98 S.Ct. 1942, 56 L.Ed.2d 486 (1978); Abel v. U.S., 362 U.S. 217, 80 S.Ct. 683, 4 L.Ed.2d 678 (1968).

“Deliberate use by the government of an administrative [safety statute] for the purpose of gathering evidence in a criminal case must be met with stern resistance by the Courts.” Abel v. U.S., 362 U.S. at

  1. See also Brock v. Gretna Mach. & Iron Works, 769 F.2d 1110 (5th Cir. 1985) [administrative search warrant valid because adequately describes manner of defendant’s selection for inspection]; Florida v. Royer, 460 U.S. 491, 103 S.Ct. 1319, 1325, 75 L.Ed.2d 229, 238 (1983).

“The scope of the search must be ‘strictly tied to and justified by’ the circumstances which rendered its initiation permissible.” Florida v. Royer, 460 U.S. at 500.

Michigan v. Clifford, 464 U.S. 287, 294-7, 104 S.Ct. 641, 647, 78 L.Ed.2d 477, 484-6 (1984)[“If a warrant is necessary, the object of the search determines the type of warrant required.”].


 Without describing or defining what procedures or guidelines are required, the Supreme Court approved roadside “sobriety checkpoints,” conducted pursuant to “guidelines,” noting that same are “minimally intrusive” and serve a “grave and legitimate interest” of the state, indistinguishable from the border stops approved in U.S.

  1. Martinez-Fuerte, 428 U.S. 543 (1976).

See City of Indianapolis v. Edmond, 121 S.Ct. 447(2000)[requiring individualized suspicion for narcotics- detection traffic roadblocks]; Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444, 110 L.Ed.2d 412 (1990); State v. Van Natta, 811 S.W.2d 608 (Tex.Cr. App. 1991)[state must prove effectiveness of DWI roadblocks in preventing accidents caused by drunk drivers otherwise the roadblock will be violative of the Fourth Amendment]; Meeks v. State, 692 S.W.2d 504 (Tex.Cr.App. 1985) [a roadblock license check will be permitted only where the “sole purpose in stopping all traffic on the highway …was …to check driver’s licenses”]; State v. Barcia, 562 A.2d 246 (N.J. 1989)[roadblock stopping every twentieth car to catch cocaine purchasers violated U.S. and New Jersey Constitutions — only 59 vehicles were directed away from the main thoroughfare and only nine persons were arrested].

See also Texas v. Brown, 460 U.S. 730, 743, 103 S.Ct. 1535, 1543, 75 L.Ed.2d 502, 515 (1983), “The circumstances of the meeting between [the police officers and the defendant] gives no suggestion that the roadblock was a pretext whereby evidence of narcotic violation might be uncovered …in the course a check for driver’s licenses.” Texas v. Brown, 460 U.S. at 743.

Commonwealth v. Tarbert, 502 A.2d 221 (Pa. 1985) [intrusiveness of systematic roadblock stops, made without reasonable suspicion, not outweighed by law enforcement interests]; Fatemis v. State, 558 S.W.2d 463, 466 (Tex.Crim.App. 1977) [“license checks” may not be used as a “pretext” for criminal investigations generally]; People v. Bartley, 466 N.E.2d 346 (Ill. App. 1984) [roadblocks stopping all drivers for intoxication violate state and federal constitution]; In re Richard J., 185 Cal.App.3d 855, 229 Cal.Rptr. 884 (1986) [warrantless temporary stop at “sobriety checkpoints” violated California and United States Constitution]; Meeks v. State, 692 S.W.2d 504 (Tex.Crim.App. 1985) [license check roadblock could not be used to support a traffic stop, even though all vehicles were stopped unless the “sole purpose in stopping all traffic on the highway ..was not to check driver’s licenses”]; State v. Koppel, 499 A.2d 977 (N.H. 1985) [drunk driving roadblocks violated the state’s constitutional counterpoint to the Fourth Amendment]; State v. Martin, 496 A.2d 442 (Vt. 1985) [constitutional roadblock stop must involve explanation of purpose, minimal detention, compliance with objective guidelines for selection of vehicles to be stopped, visible display of legitimate authority and visibly non-random basis for stops].

Contra Little v. State, 479 A.2d 903 (Md.Cr.App. 1984) [OK where detailed regulations, only driver checked, other occupants and vehicle not searched, and large sign with provision for U-turn for those wishing to avoid the checkpoints]; Ingersoll v. Palmer, 221 Cal.Rptr. 659, 175 Cal.App.3rd 1028 (Cal.Ct.App. 1985) [DWI roadblocks’ effect on personal liberty “minimal” in relation to public safety interest, but limited police discretion and advance publicity required]; State v. Perpich, 590 F. Supp. 1057 (D. Minn. 1984) [drunk driving survey];

U.S. v. McFayden, 865 F.2d 1306 (D.C. 1989) [where roadblock was designed to stem traffic congestion that resulted form street drug sales, all vehicles were stopped and same furthered legitimate government interest of safety, the court held it met constitutional standards].

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