According to a Spokane Spokesman-Review article, last weekend, Spokane County Sheriff’s officers were saddled with a “three stops per hour” quota during the city’s Hoopfest tournament. According to the article:
“The sheriff’s office has scheduled extra patrols for impaired drivers and boaters deputies have been asked “to make at least three motorist contacts per hour and to have a zero tolerance for impaired drivers.”
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees a person’s right to be, “secure in their persons…against unreasonable searches and seizures…” not supported by probable cause. When the police stop a driver it is, by definition, a seizure of that person. There is not a DUI defense attorney out there who can’t recall numerous examples of an initial vehicle stop based on shaky, manufactured or downright fabricated probable cause.
Stops based upon instinct rather than fact or where the stop occurs essentially to just check if the driver has been drinking. It’s a “stop first and determine the reason later” mentality. Think of the officer who sits outside a bar waiting for patrons to leave, then following them and pulling them over. It is unusual however, even in my experience, for a police agency to come right out and admit that is exactly what they intend to do.
Washington law forbids the use of random sobriety check points that are so popular in other states. This Spokane County directive is essentially just that. A directive to stop a certain number of vehicles, irrespective of probable cause, for the purpose of determining whether the driver is impaired. Otherwise there would have been no need for the directive. It would seem unnecessary to tell tell a cop to stop every person they see violating the rules of the road. That is their job. To create an artificial quota with a minimum number of stops per officer, is in effect, directing the police to make stops regardless of the existence of probable cause to do so. It represents yet another governmental assault on the Fourth Amendment and one that I’m sure my DUI defense counterparts in Spokane will look forward to battling.