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Kentucky Supreme Court Rules Highway Checkpoints Illegal

Thursday, May 3, 2012

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highway checkpoint

Kentucky’s Supreme Court has ruled that highway checkpoints of drivers who refused to display a $10 city sticker in their window are in fact unconstitutional and therefore, illegal.

The city of Liberty required all 1,850 residents and anyone working within the city limits to purchase and display the sticker, but teachers at a local school had failed to do so, prompting local police to take action.

Those individuals who refused to purchase a $10 sticker and place it in their vehicle windows were targeted by city officials, who mandated that police set up roadblocks. Those who had the stickers were permitted through the roadblocks, but those who did not were interrogated and had their vehicles searched, a procedure the Kentucky Supreme Court has found to be in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Joseph A. Singleton was one of the stickerless drivers who was stopped at a checkpoint and interrogated. When cops searched his vehicle, they found a small amount of marijuana. Singleton moved to suppress that evidence on the grounds that his vehicle was stopped without probable cause in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

“The checkpoint’s only purpose was to enforce a revenue-raising tax upon vehicles in the city,” the court ruled. “Thus, the checkpoint to enforce the sticker ordinance comports with none of the purposes which the United States Supreme Court has found to be important enough to override the individual liberty interests secured by the Fourth Amendment.”

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