Madison roadblock settlement

It’s a good thing the Madison County Sheriff’s Office reached a settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) regarding the use of roadblocks. A protracted lawsuit would have cost a lot of money with little certainty of winning.

Roadblocks have always had a fragile legal base in the United States because of the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment which forbids “reasonable search and seizure.” In 1960, in Michigan Police versus Sitz, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 roadblocks were permissible. Even so, state courts in 10 states still rule roadblocks to be a violation of their state constitutions. The point being, roadblocks are controversial. Law abiding citizens driving normally down a road should not be routinely subjected to searches. It is inconvenient to motorists and not particularly effective as a law enforcement tool. Roadblocks can also be discriminatory if great care is not exercised in where, when, why and how they are conducted.

There are occasions when roadblocks may be necessary for the overall good. But law enforcement agencies should exercise caution and be cognizant of the inherent Constitutional issues involved, not to mention the inconvenience of law abiding citizens.

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