Why can’t Minnesota legally have sobriety checkpoints?

In Tuesday’s 5×8, we had a good discussion on the Mothers Against Drunk Driving push for Minnesota to change its constitution to allow the state to once again stop people at checkpoints to see if they’re drunk.

Other states can do it, so what’s up with Minnesota?

Asked on Twitter to further explain, the public defender who writes at Not for the Monosyllabic accepts the challenge with a post today.

I have to say I agree with the Minnesota Court’s interpretation of “unreasonable.” As someone who spends 40+ hours a week dealing with the minutia of search and seizure law, where things in my job frequently depend on seemingly insignificant facts, I think that any suspicionless search is unreasonable. Allowing suspicionless searches, even when it advances a good cause like preventing deaths due to drunk drivers, sets a precedent that I’m not comfortable with. Like I’ve argued before, where does it end? If suspicionless searches are allowed when there’s a particularly egregious crime that the state is trying to prevent, then what is to stop this line of reasoning from being applied to other types of suspicionless searches beyond just checkpoints?

In my opinion, Minnesota got it right in its determination that completely suspicionless searches violate the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, under the Minnesota Constitution. I say that any seizure, despite its length or brevity, that is completely void of any reasonable articulable suspicion of criminal activity is an unreasonable search and violates citizens’ rights.

The only thing left to decide, then, is whether Minnesota should change its constitution to allow for the stops.

That’s a question for the lawmakers to decide should they be interested in opening up a can of worms.

Will they? Not a chance.