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Legality of Anaheim's Plan for Roadblock Sobriety Checks

September 22, 1985

In your article "Anaheim Considers Sobriety Checks" (Sept. 7), you reported on the ongoing controversy about police roadblocks to check for drunk drivers. Despite municipal and superior court rulings against them as unconstitutional, Assistant City Atty. Mark Logan said the roadblocks still may be set up this coming Thanksgiving.

I strongly agree with both courts that these police roadblocks are unconstitutional and violate some of our basic constitutional rights and privileges.

These police roadblocks violate the Fourth Amendment in the Bill of Rights, which states that "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against (I emphasize) unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated. . . ." A person's automobile is his or her personal property, and the police, by setting up these roadblocks, violate our constitutional rights as currently interpreted by the Superior Court.

As American Civil Liberties Union attorney Joan Howarth said: "Everyone has the right to proceed on his or her way without being stopped by the police. People should be stopped because they are doing something suspicious, not because they're on the wrong road at the wrong time."

These roadblocks constitute too much government intervention and could turn us into a Western version of the Soviet Union.

True, there is much too much drunk driving in America. But combatting this problem doesn't lie in illegal search and seizure. I feel that stiffer fines and longer incarceration periods would do more to first-time and chronic drunk drivers than would police roadblocks.

KEITH ENGEL

Santa Ana

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