Sobriety check points. Driver's license check points. Laws prohibiting cell phone usage while driving. Search and seizure conditions of probation. All of this sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Who is in favor of drunk or unlicensed drivers? How many times has some moron just sat there in front of you yapping on a cell phone when the light turns green? Why shouldn't people convicted of crimes have to submit to searches without probable cause - they're CRIMINALS, aren't they? Well, in spite of how "good" all of these laws sound, they all have consequences that extend far beyond the face value of what they purport to accomplish. All of these laws have one thing in common - they give law enforcement the opportunity to observe things that are personal to citizens that they would otherwise not be able to observe. Your friendly law enforcement officer at the conveniently located checkpoint has much more on his/her mind than just checking for licenses or drunk drivers. They are also looking for contraband in plain sight or anything that will give them a wedge into the interior of the car to search it. You and I get stopped at a checkpoint. Assuming we have not been drinking and we have our licenses and proof of insurance, that's pretty much it. Young, Hispanic kid with a bald head and tats gets stopped at a check point, different story. He may have his license and insurance papers and he may be totally sober. He will be asked: "Do you have anything illegal in the car, there?" When he says no, the next question is automatic: "Mind if I take a look?" If he says OK, he has just given consent to search. It they find anything, game over. And remember - but for the checkpoint, they would never have had the opportunity to be talking to him because they would have had no reason to stop him. A person who gets pulled over for talking on a cell phone is subject to the same type of questions resulting in a "consensual search" of the car. Cars can contain a lot of things. On another thread, I mentioned a client of mine who got pulled over for cell phone usage. When the cop asks, "mind if I take a look inside the car?" what are most people going to say - NO? My client had methampetamine in his pocket and a strike prior. He got 32 months in state prison. If there had not been a cell phone law, he probably never would have been stopped. It used to be that search and seizure conditions could only be attached to probation where they were reasonably related to the original crime. Drug possession, theft, concealed weapon, etc., are crimes from which it can reasonably be inferred that the person involved may be the type of person who would hide contraband on his person. Hence, there is a logical reason to impose a S&S condition on his probationary status. Well, that has all changed. Current practice calls for S&S conditions regardless of the nature of the original crime. So what happens now? Every time there is any contact whatsoever between law enforcement and a citizen, the first question out of the cop's mouth (following the obligatory and TOTALLY disingenuous, "How's it going?") is: "You on probation or parole?" If the person says yes, it's game over - he is searched on the spot. What's the point of this lengthy rant?, I hear you cry. It is this. When you applaud such things as check points and the other ruses mentioned in the first paragraph, know that there is much more at stake than it would at first glance appear. What's at stake, my friends, is the status of the Fourth Amendment in this great land. And that status is being threatened from all sides these days.