Police in Virginia may block off roads to search and interrogate motorists as long as a vague “plan” is filed in advance, the state Court of Appeals ruled last Tuesday. Michael Anthony Desposito challenged his May 27, 2009 arrest at a checkpoint run by the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office on the ground that the department allowed its officers to run open-ended roadblocks in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Though Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, the Virginia courts presume that warrantless and suspicionless searches of motorists is acceptable as long as it is done in the name of safety. The state requires automobiles to go through an annual “safety” inspection process in which those that pass receive a sticker good for a year. Identifying automobiles that may have minor violations such as window tint that is slightly too dark or wiper blades that are a bit too old is big business for the state. According to the Virginia Auditor of Public Accounts, safety sticker tickets generated $12.5 million in 2010…. via Virginia Appeals Court Expands Use of Roadblocks.