2/28/2012Utah Moves to Ban DUI Roadblocks
Utah House votes to prohibit DUI and drivers license checkpoints.
Utah may soon become the thirteenth state to ban police from closing roads and highways for the purpose of conducting suspicionless searches of motorists. The state Senate began consideration yesterday of legislation that would outlaw roadblocks set up for the purpose of arresting those driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) and ticketing those with expired paperwork. The measure cleared the state House Thursday by a 41 to 33 vote.
"I believe that doing away with checkpoints and putting those resources into saturation patrols better upholds our constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and is more effective law enforcement," wrote state Representative David Butterfield (R-Logan) on the introduction of his bill earlier this month.
Butterfield's proposal would allow roadblocks only if authorized by a search warrant or arrest warrant targeted against a particular individual. Otherwise, checkpoints could also be used in an emergency situation or when searching for an invasive wildlife species. Currently, Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming prohibit the use of roadblocks.
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration accident data, there is no difference in alcohol-impaired fatality rates in the dozen roadblock free states compared to the jurisdictions that conduct regular checkpoints.
"I applaud our law enforcement community for helping to make Utah the best state in the nation to live, work and raise a family," Butterfield wrote. "While effective law enforcement is critical for any state, the legislature must balance effective law enforcement against the need to protect constitutional and civil liberties. In this instance, we are talking about the right against unreasonable searches as pronounced in both the U.S. and Utah Constitutions."
To become law, the state Senate would have to adopt the measure and the governor would have to sign the bill. A copy of House Bill 140 is available in a 40k PDF file at the source link below.