DWI checkpoints and ‘the flyer’

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 127 views 

Before getting too far into this column, let me make it perfectly clear that I despise driving while intoxicated (DWI) checkpoints.

Yes, they do weed out drunk drivers but they also serve to harass, annoy and delay drivers who are doing absolutely nothing wrong. Still, courts have consistently ruled that they are fine because the level of intrusion they inflict on drivers is outweighed by the state’s interest in keeping drunk drivers off the roads.

Like DWI checkpoints or not, we are stuck with them.

Having said that, there is an attorney in Florida by the name of Warren Redlich who claims he has identified a loophole that will allow motorists to breeze through those checkpoints. Essentially, motorists are supposed to keep their windows rolled up, their mouths shut and display a flyer to the police.

That flyer states the motorist will comply with lawful orders, directs the officer to put any tickets under the windshield wiper and advises police the motorist will not sign anything or hand over a driver’s license. Oh, and the motorist is advised to record everything that goes on during the stop.

Anyone who is foolhardy enough to use such a flyer can download one specific to Arkansas by visiting this page on Redlich’s website.

Redlich may be right in a technical sense. Motorists may be within their rights to refuse to talk to officers at DWI checkpoints or roll down their windows. But who wants to be the driver to actually try that? People should always assert their rights, of course, but I was taught that it is a terrible idea to openly antagonize the police. And, yes, posting up a flyer and refusing to roll down your window or talk to an officer is a very good way to antagonize one. If you flash that flyer at an officer, there is a good chance you are in for a very long, uncomfortable evening instead of the brief inconvenience of a stop at a DWI checkpoint.

I have always hated the old maxim suggesting that only those who are up to something should be worried about getting into trouble when the government overreaches, but that advice may be just perfect here. DWI checkpoints are authorized, and the best way to get through one is to comply with them and hope you won’t be delayed too long.

If you want to visit with someone who can do something about DWI checkpoints, visit with your local legislators, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) or someone else who can do something about them. Showing your displeasure over those checkpoints to a police officer doing his job could result in nothing but trouble for you.