Interesting case on driver rights and public safety
The story by Robert Barnes describes the response of Chief Justice John Roberts to the decision by his fellow Supremes against reviewing the 2005 case. it began when Richmond police pulled over a driver whom they suspected of driving drunk. The suspicion was based on an anonymous tip.
The driver failed a sobriety test, according to court papers, and was later convicted of drunk driving. The Virginia Supreme Court overturned the conviction, ruling that police did not have reasonable cause to stop him because they had not seen him driving erratically.
Travelers have written to my column urging police to either set up tip lines for drivers to call or to act more aggressively on calls from the road. Some law enforcement agencies note that there are limits on the actions they can take in response to citizen complaints. Some say explicitly that you're not much help to them if you're anonymous. The Richmond case deals with one variation on this broad theme.
What's your take? I'm very much in favor of privacy rights for travelers. Still, there are limits to privacy in public situations. For example, courts have ruled in favor of the use of cameras photographing motorists in traffic law enforcement.
October 20, 2009; 3:14 PM ET
Categories: Driving , Safety | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, law enforcement
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