.

Libertarians to Protest DUI Checkpoints Tonight

The Valley Forge Revolutionaries will protest the scheduled July 6 police sobriety checkpoints near Abington Memorial Hospital.

 

Motorists heading along Route 611 tonight may encounter two things:

  • A police sobriety checkpoint
  • Protestors holding up signs to go the other way.

These protestors are part of a grass-roots organization, calling themselves the Valley Forge Revolutionaries.

“What we do is activism,” Darren Wolfe, spokesperson for the Valley Forge Revolutionaries, said. “No one has the right to initiate force on anyone else, and we believe on consistently applying that.”

The group, founded in 2007, describes its police checkpoint protests as “checkpoint nullification” events.

The scheduled July 6 checkpoint nullification will take place near on Old York Road; it comes off the heels of the group’s first such event on June 15, near the turnpike interchange at Willow Grove.

During the event, approximately 10 members of the Valley Forge Revolutionaries stood on the sidewalks, a few blocks away from the checkpoint.

According to Wolfe, nearly double the amount of protestors are expected to join the July 6 checkpoint nullification.

At the first protest, the Valley Forge Revolutionaries waved homemade signs with reflective lettering, some of which read, “Cops Ahead Exit Now” or “Big Bro is Watching.” The protestors also vocally warned approaching motorists of the DUI checkpoint.

Wolfe, who runs a blog called, “The International Libertarian,” recorded the event with photographs and a video [see above media gallery].

During the video, it is apparent that the checkpoint nullification efforts had several instances of success in turning motorists around.

 

Warrantless and Arbitrary

According to Wolfe, the checkpoint nullification events are conducted to protect citizens' Fourth Amendment right, which, in part, guards against unreasonable searches and seizures. He explained that the DUI checkpoints are warrantless and arbitrary, and that such law enforcement activity goes against behavior of a free society.

“Every year, thousands of innocent victims fall prey to these heavily-armed gangs bent on lawless actions,” James Babb, founder of the Valley Forge Revolutionaries, said in a press release. “As a service to the community, the Valley Forge Revolutionaries will be volunteering on Friday to help prevent innocent citizens from being victimized.“

Babb is the co-founder and chairperson for the Montgomery County Libertarian Committee, and ran in 2004 and 2006 for state representative in legislative district 157 as the Libertarian candidate.

According to a New York Times article, in 1990, the Supreme Court of the United States did rule that such sobriety checkpoints do not violate constitutional rights, specifically addressing the preliminary questioning and observation by checkpoint officers.

However, Babb said that checkpoints are both ineffectual and fiscally irresponsible.

“Traditional police patrols are far more likely to locate genuinely impaired drivers than these suspiciousness checkpoints,” Babb said in the release. “So, not only are these checkpoints blatantly immoral and illegal, they’re also a waste of police time and tax dollars.”

 

Preventive Measure for Public Safety

During the video of the June 15 protest, Valley Forge Revolutionaries members did interact with Upper Moreland police. Although, it was apparent that such interactions were at times confrontational, the event ended without any protestors being arrested.

A note on The International Libertarian blog thanked protestors for exercising discipline and level-headedness during the event.

Local law-enforcement officials had equal sentiments.

“I felt that the officers did very well in ensuring that the people have a right to lawfully protest,” Thomas Nestel, Upper Moreland Police chief, said.

According to Nestel, the protestors have the legal right to assemble so long as they remained on the sidewalks. However, Nestel expressed confusion as to why sobriety checkpoints would be protested, if not to prevent motorists under the influence from being caught.

“I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I never seen protestors at a DUI checkpoint,” Nestel said, adding that he does not find the protests as negative publicity for police. “I think it’s great for people to see what the police have to deal with.”

According to Nestel, sobriety checkpoints are helpful to law enforcement.

“It becomes a great word-of-mouth warning for those thinking of driving drunk,” Nestel said. “It’s a preventative measure for public safety.”

---

According to the Valley Forge Revolutionaries Facebook page, the group will gather at the parking lot for the July 6 checkpoint nullification event.

The protest is expected to take place from 9:30 p.m. – 2 a.m. near along Route 611. 

Bill Sword July 06, 2012 at 11:14 AM
Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444 (1990), was a United States Supreme Court case involving the constitutionality of police sobriety checkpoints. By a vote of 6-3, the Court held that these checkpoints met the Fourth Amendment standard of "reasonable search and seizure." See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michigan_Dept._of_State_Police_v._Sitz Also See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_of_Indianapolis_v._Edmond which reaffirms the police's right to stop drivers to check for impairment.
Bill Sword July 06, 2012 at 11:31 AM
Also, I went through the DUI Checkpoint which was on 611 last month. This is exactly how the conversation with the officer went: Cop: How are you tonight? Me: Good. Cop: Where are you coming from? Me: The Movies. Cop: What did you see? Me: Prometheus. Cop: How was it? Me: it sucked, to be honest. Cop: *laughed* Ok, have a good night. After watching the Cop Block videos though, I'm sure it would have went far smoother if I started shouting "Am I being detained!?" instead.
Marc Lombardi July 06, 2012 at 12:44 PM
It's good to know that we Democrats do not have the market cornered on the "unwashed hippie protest over dumb things" side of the arena. Glad to see that these Libertarians are also in on the act of protesting something that is not only completely constitutional but also has the potential to save lives.
JAMES CLEM July 06, 2012 at 12:57 PM
have any of these protesters had a love one killed by a drunk driver? I bet there story would change.. this is an important part of enforcing the law!!! Police have the right to protect the innocent and responsible people! I'm sure there are plenty of other more important issues these "Libertarian" kook's can protest!
Tyler H July 06, 2012 at 01:18 PM
A brief detention of the motoring public is hardly a "warrant less search!" By the way, the Supreme Court agrees, that's why there are guidelines the police must follow. Waste of time and tax dollars? How about the billions of $'s drunk drivers cost the public each year along with the people they kill and injure. Even if one life is saved its worth it! Driving is a privilege not a right. Cops, keep up the good work!
Jim E July 06, 2012 at 01:38 PM
Honestly it looks like a handful of young people who are bored and hoping to gain some attention and feel like they are doing something productive. I think they just need to find better ways to channel that energy.
Miranda Klue July 06, 2012 at 01:41 PM
I am thinking that maybe the Valley Forge Revolutionaries should invest their money into signs which read "Don't drink and drive" or "Drunk drivers are dumb".....Instead, they are promoting the safety of these drunk drivers by warning them.....Way to go!!!
Mark July 06, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Enjoy your 15 minutes.
John Harris July 06, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Checkpoints can cost more than $10,000 each time they’re set up compared to $300 for each roving patrol. Considering how tight state and local budgets are in this dismal economy, is it really a wise investment? http://www.paduiblog.com/pa-dui/pennsylvania-dui-checkpoints-are-they-really-worth-it/
Dee Marie July 06, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Since you cannot possible put a monetary value to a life then yes it is a wise investment. If a check point can take one irresponsible driver off the road it can save a life. Be responsible or don't drive. Oh but if you'd like to talk about how valuable this resource is, I would be glad to sit down with you to tell you all about life after my sister was killed by a drunk driver.
Bill Sword July 06, 2012 at 04:08 PM
While sobriety checkpoints are among the most expensive of deterrence methods, studies by the National Traffic Safety Administration also found them to be among the most effective at deterring drivers from drunken driving. http://auburnjournal.com/detail/201301.html
John Harris July 06, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Every life is indeed valuable and I'm not arguing that. I'm just saying that a roving patrol which can cover a wider area and are cheaper ( so you can have them more often) is a better method than a checkpoint.
Dee Marie July 06, 2012 at 05:09 PM
"Actually, there are significant cost savings from high-visibility enforcement. In addition, most sobriety checkpoints are preformed through the use of federal grant dollars aimed at preventing drunk driving. One study found that there was an average cost savings of $50,000 per checkpoint, including over $3,000 in medical costs. Others have found that checkpoints save between six and 23 dollars for every dollar invested. The annual cost of drunk driving related crashes to society is over $130 billion." There are many other facts about roving patrol vs checkpoints here: http://www.madd.org/laws/law-overview/Sobriety_Checkpoints_Overview.pdf No matter which you believe are more monetarily beneficial, the fact that these people are protesting the act of trying to save lives is pathetic.
John Harris July 06, 2012 at 06:15 PM
I guess I'm just frustrated with all of this. Look: *We have more people in jail than any other country *We spend billions on law enforcement *We have the war on drugs, DUI checkpoints and all this other stuff... and we still aren't SAFE. People are still dying from DUI crashes, murders, kids are getting molested. I just think we as a society need to start asking hard questions about what is really working and what isn't and maybe come up with some new ideas, think outside of the box and try to make our communities safer. I don't have all the answers, but I do know this- if we don't start asking the questions we will never find the answers.
Dee Marie July 06, 2012 at 08:15 PM
Well John I guess we can agree on that. Things do need to change ....
Darren Wolfe July 07, 2012 at 12:28 PM
As one of the participants in the checkpoint nullification let me tell you that those who support this are trading your liberty for the illusion of security. As John has pointed out checkpoints are a very inefficient way to catch DUIs. They do serve as great publicity stunts for politicians & police to point to & claim credit. ("publicity stunts" is what Justice John Paul Stevens called them is his dissenting opinion in Sitz. See http://www.fff.org/freedom/fd0708c.asp ) They're also a great way to spend federal money & collect fines from people for every petty infraction under the sun. In the mean time privacy is destroyed. Way unappreciated, privacy is liberty's first line of defense. In order to do anything to the people the govt has to first be able to "see" them. It has to be able to know what they're doing & when. That's why every dictatorship controls movement & has checkpoints. We can't hand the US govt the tools it needs to become a dictatorship & not expect it to become one.
PeterN July 07, 2012 at 12:36 PM
In many cases with DUI Checkpoints the arrests are unfair, which is the valid reason for the protests. In these type of circumstances, sites like http://www.DUIClear.com can also help get the charges dropped.
Dee Marie July 08, 2012 at 02:26 AM
perhaps you should be more concerned with the people who are irresponsible and driving while intoxicated instead of those trying to stop them and help the public. had there have been a checkpoint at the shore that night, my sister may be alive today. i pray that you never feel the pain of losing a loved one to a drunk driver. its unbearable. while i commend you for trying to make the world a better place, perhaps you should be holding signs saying don't drink and drive. or protest in a different fashion that doesn't show support of those who are irresponisibly putting the lives of others in danger.
Dee Marie July 08, 2012 at 02:28 AM
As stated above ..... "Actually, there are significant cost savings from high-visibility enforcement. In addition, most sobriety checkpoints are preformed through the use of federal grant dollars aimed at preventing drunk driving. One study found that there was an average cost savings of $50,000 per checkpoint, including over $3,000 in medical costs. Others have found that checkpoints save between six and 23 dollars for every dollar invested. The annual cost of drunk driving related crashes to society is over $130 billion." There are many other facts on the benefits of roving patrol vs checkpoints here: http://www.madd.org/laws/law-overview/Sobriety_Checkpoints_Overview.pdf
Marc Lombardi July 08, 2012 at 04:28 AM
You want privacy? Stay in your own home. The moment you go out onto the road in your car, obeying the laws of the road trump your privacy. It's the same reason that dark tinted windows are illegal if they prevent visibility. I understand that you THINK you're protecting our liberty, but you're not. You're pointlessly protesting something that has been deemed constitutional and found to save lives. That's factual and statistical. And what is you're argument against it? A whole bunch of "ifs" and unfounded possibilities. It the same sort of idea that people have who think that allowing gay marriage will lead to people being allowed to marry dogs or toasters. The police can see whether you are visibly driving without a seat belt on, or with items blocking your winshield. This is not the path to a dictatorship any more than your reasoning is a path to paranoia. DUI checkpoints are not Big Brother Watching. They are ways for the police to get drunk drivers off of the streets and into jail. That's good enough for me.
Darren Wolfe July 08, 2012 at 10:52 AM
Dee Marie, I'm sorry for your loss. You might note that we don't have any signs encouraging drinking & driving. We're against the checkpoints not making the roads safe. Also I've gotten support from others who've lost loved ones to drunk drivers yet still see the evil of checkpoints. Everyone - What gets lost in all of this is the link between privacy & liberty. Before a govt can do anything to the people it has to know what they're doing & have access to them. Checkpoints & other suspicionless, warrantless searches do this, that's why dictatorships have them. While well meaning, perhaps, the advocates of this kind of policing are handing the govt the tools it needs to become a dictatorship. You may trust them with such powers but realize that this is the road to tyranny: “Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning, but without understanding.” -- Judge Louis D. Brandeis
Marc Lombardi July 09, 2012 at 12:50 AM
Do you have a Sam's Club or BJ's membership? If so, how do you react to the warrantless searches the employees do when leaving the store when they ask for your receipt & check your cart? A DUI checkpoint is not a stepping stone towards communism. And even if I can't convince you of this, what sort of timetable do you think they are using? I mean, it was 1990 when the U.S. Supreme Court decided they were legal. Even if you count from that point forward there has been no change in 22 years towards checkpoints of a more drastic nature. There haven't been marijuana checkpoints...illegal alien checkpoints... What kind of infringements are you thinking are SUDDENLY going to take place when they haven't progressed to anything more in over two decades? This is nothing more than another fringe political group rallying around a "sky is falling" scare tactic that preys upon people's inane fears of losing civil liberties when all these officers are doing is upholding the law & keeping the streets safe.
Darren Wolfe July 09, 2012 at 03:31 AM
Marc by the numbers 1. The Constitution & the warrants it calls for apply to the govt not private citizens & companies. 2 They arrest people for drugs at checkpoints, DUI isn't only about alcohol. 3 News flash - they do immigration checkpoints near the border. I don't know what rock you live under that you don't know this. 4 In the last decade we have much more surveillance & loss of liberty, haven't you heard the controversy about the Patriot Act & NDAA? National security letters? Haven't you heard about the drones being used domestically? Are you unaware of the TSA enhanced pat down scandals? Keep hiding your head in the sand & enabling the destruction of our liberties.
Marc Lombardi July 09, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Darren: 1. So I guess that means you stop for the Sam's Club folks with no problems? I thought so. No infringements of your civil liberties there, right? And why is that exactly. 2. As well they should. If you have illegal drugs out in the open and you are operating a motor vehicle, or you are high while driving, you deserve to be arrested. It's called breaking the law. That's what they do to people. 3. Near the border, yes, where immigration MUST be checked. This is no different than checking ID before getting onto a plane. That is not a violation of your rights -- it's a safety measure. A border checkpoint is NOT something that was borne out of police sobriety checkpoints. 4. The PATRIOT Act was an overreaction by the politicians after 9/11. TSA patdowns are only scandalous on the rare occasion when 3-year-old or someone's elderly white grandmother is patted down. How many shoe bombings have taken place after 9/11? None? Hmmm.... I'll take the patdowns then. Keep overreacting to common sense policy and using fear and paranoia to help criminals get away with breaking the law.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »