KAAL KABC6 TV ran a story on the checkpoint, titled Thousands Pulled Over in Annual Driver Safety Check , along with video footage.
They've been conducting these checkpoints for years.The Iowa State Patrol website states "Since 2007, District 8 began hosting a multi-agency Vehicle Safety Inspection Checkpoint on I-35, at mile marker 211, which is supported by approximately 70 law enforcement officers from city, county, state, and federal law enforcement agencies."
Multiple police agencies along with a police canine team stopped cars at random, diverting them off the freeway into a unmodern rest area where they began inspecting vehicles, questioning motorists, asking for papers, and issuing tickets. This was not just for commercial trucks, it was for everyone -people driving in their cars who were not engaged in commerce. Commercial truck drivers agree as part of federal laws to comply with vehicle inspections. But are the American people who are not working, and are merely travelling at their own will, obligated to stop for mobs of police at random for warrantless searches, inspection, and questioning? Is this legal, or is it a blatant violation of the 4th Amendment?
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
In the following exchange recorded at Saturday's checkpoint, an Iowa officer acknowledges, upon questioning of the driver, that he only has a right to stop and inspect the vehicle because it is a commercial vehicle "in a regulated industry".
However, if I am not driving a truck and am merely travelling with my family in my personal vehicle, I would not have stopped or allowed any officer to search or inspect my vehicle without probable cause. Such an instance occurred earlier this year, when I was driving in Texas with my family and a federal agent at a warrantless border checpoint nowhere near the border tried to ask "where are you headed today?". I refused to tell him where I was headed, because frankly it's none of his damn business.
The officer at this recent Iowa checkpoint was very courteous and professional, and he did not inspect my truck since I told him I had stopped only to use the restroom (the police had not yet diverged any traffic off the freeway for this checkpoint- I had stopped on my own accord to use the facilities.) However, as he pointed out, he could have rightly inspected my truck under federal trucking rules.
The general public, however, should keep in mind that when they are driving in their own personal vehicles they should not feel obligated to comply with warrantless searches.
Here is a transcript of the exchange with the Iowa officer:
Cop: How are you?
Driver: Well, I stopped here to go to the restroom but they said there's no restroom I guess, eh?
Cop: Nope. So you get to deal with us for a little bit first.
Driver: Now I was not routed off to this rest area, I chose, because they had not routed the traffic here, so... Is this a warrantless checkpoint, or what's going on exactly here?
Cop: Yep. But right now, we are DOT. DOT...
Driver: OK so this is a DOT checkpoint?
Cop: This part is yep.
Driver: Okay. Now there was no signs mandating me to exit, yet at least. maybe they were gonna set them up-
Cop: No, but I can come in here when you're around your truck, and I can do business with you without probable cause. Anytime 24/7.
Cop: Because you're in a regulated industry.
Driver: That's right. I understand that but I wanted to say is, I gotta go to the bathroom, and it said rest area, so thats why I pulled over into the rest area, to go to the restroom. Now, if you want to inspect the truck, go ahead and do it, but i was trying to understand what exactly is the protocol, whats going on, it didn't say 'CHECKPOINT AHEAD, EXIT MANDATORY'
Cop: Well because they're just getting set up.
Driver: All right.
Cop: They hadn't done it yet.
Cop: So anyway.
Driver: I gotta go to the bathroom, so I don't have too much time.
Driver: Is there a little one here?
Cop: Well they got a port-a-potty set up, but that is for officers.
Cop: Otherwise, this is just.. this is just a park & stretch area.
Driver: Okay. Can I use it?
Cop: Are you gonna mess it up?
Driver: Well, no.
Cop: We got women here, so.
Driver: No, I won't mess it up.
Cop: You keeping a logbook today?
Driver: We got E-logs.
Cop: Alright. What's in the box?
Driver: It's empty; actually we're going to pick up a load right now.
Cop: Ok. What we'll have you do is, see where that explorer is there?
Driver: Yeah, the white one yeah.
Cop: Just roll across here & pull up on the shoulder as far to the right as you can, and you can walk back and take care of your business.
One additional point I'd like to address is the officer's claim that they "can do business with you without probable cause. Anytime 24/7". This is not necessarily always the case. Officers in Texas, for example, arent allowed to wake up a sleeping trucker if he is off duty in the sleeper berth, as admitted by the Texas Troopers last year in response to a complaint filed against two Texas Department of Public Safety officers. The Texas DPS officially admitted wrongdoing and the two cops, who had illegally woken up a sleeping trucker and demanded ID, had "corrective action taken against them", as well as mandated "retraining provided".
Iowa state police are also keeping track of motorists in other ways besides warantless searches. Dr. Katherine Albrecht recently discussed the how retailer Pilot/ FlyingJ gives Iowa police access to customer loyalty card data. In 2010, LandLine Magazine published a story about it: [See Iowa police comparing logbooks against Pilot Rewards
Martin Hill is a Catholic paleoconservative and civil rights advocate. His work has been featured on LewRockwell.com, WhatReallyHappened, Infowars, PrisonPlanet, National Motorists Association, WorldNetDaily, The Orange County Register, KNBC4 Los Angeles, Los Angeles Catholic Lay Mission Newspaper, KFI 640, The Press Enterprise, Antiwar.com, IamtheWitness.com, FreedomsPhoenix, Rense, BlackBoxVoting, and many others. Archives can be found at LibertyFight.com