Print 38 comment(s) - last by Belard.. on Nov 27 at 4:57 PM

  (Source: OneTruth4Life/YouTube)
NHTSA said the study is valuable for justifying new laws to put more mildly intoxicated drivers in prison

Police in Fort Worth, Texas (the fifth largest city in the nation's second most populous state) raised the mother of all controversies when they set up a roadblock and began to make bizarre requests of motorists -- most of whom appeared to be entirely law abiding.
I. Fort Worth Medical Samples -- Voluntary or Police Seizure?
The Fort Worth Police Department (FWPD) installed the roadblock north of the city during daytime traffic.  They flagged down some motorists at random and asked them to give breath, saliva, and blood samples.  The FWPD claims the effort was "100 percent voluntary" and anonymous.
It acknowledges that most of the drivers had broken no law, but it said the effort was valuable to federal contractors working to complete a 3 year, $7.9M USD survey on behalf of the The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) aimed a collecting medical data for use in combatting drunk driving.
But some of the motorists who submitted samples are outraged saying that the program infringed on their Constitutional rights and that the FWPD's "please" did not make it clear that the seizure of medical samples was "voluntary".
Kim Cope -- one of those sampled -- claims to a local NBC affiliate that the police acted like she would not be allowed to continue until she allowed the contractors to seize the samples.  She comments:

It just doesn't seem right that you can be forced off the road when you're not doing anything wrong.  I gestured to the guy in front that I just wanted to go straight, but [the officer] wouldn't let me and forced me into a parking spot.

They were asking for cheek swabs.  They would give $10 for that. Also, if you let them take your blood, they would pay you $50 for that.  I finally did the Breathalyzer test just because I thought that would be the easiest way to leave.

She received no money and only consented to participate because she said she felt trapped.  But it might have not mattered anyways, as you will soon discover.
II. Read the Small Print -- Drivers Who Said no Were Tested Anyways
FWPD admitted that some drivers might have been inadvertently confused by the program and not realized that any of the samples -- including the breathalyzer sample -- were voluntary.  FWPD spokesperson Sgt. Kelly Peel comments:

We are reviewing the actions of all police personnel involved to ensure that FWPD policies and procedures were followed.  We apologize if any of our drivers and citizens were offended or inconvenienced by the NHTSA National Roadside Survey.
Passive sensor
Passive sensors, such as the one pictured above, secretly tested the breath alcohol content of those who refused to give samples. [Image Source: DUI Justice]

But local attorney Frank Colosi says the search constituted an unconstitutional search and seizure.  He comments:

You can't just be pulled over randomly or for no reason.  [The FWPD] essentially [lied] to [motorists] when they say it's completely voluntary, because they're testing [them] at that moment.

His comment refers to a surprise twist in the case.  Apparently on the consent form that officers gave "voluntary" participants fine print informed the driver that "passive alcohol sensor readings before the consent process has been completed."

It's unclear whether drivers could ask for that data to be deleted if they didn't want it to be collected, but what is clear is that most drivers did not notice the fine print or were unable to read it.  As a result what the FWPD claimed was a "voluntary" scientific study became what appears to be an involuntary search of citizens who were breaking no law.

III. Alabama Attorney General is "Shocked" by Similar Program in His State

Similar searchers were conducted in Alabama's St. Clair and Bibb Counties in June.  At the time Alabama's governor, Robert Bentley (R) expressed shock and outrage at the program, which he said he was unaware of:

I am instructing my Secretary of Law Enforcement, Spencer Collier, to investigate this issue.  Like many people, I have questions about how and why these surveys were carried out along Alabama's roads. We need to find out from the federal government exactly what is being done with the information that was collected. We'll do everything we can to get to the bottom of the issue and make sure that the rights of our citizens are protected.

Alabama's Attorney General Luther Strange remarked:

I learned about this from news reports.  I am shocked. This is very troubling and I intend to get to the bottom of it.

Sobriety checkpoint
The Texas and Alabama tests involved police roadblocks similar to "sobriety checkpoints".
[Image Source: AP]

A NHTSA spokesman, Jose Ucles, revealed that the study was being funded by the Obama administration, via the White House's National Office of Drug Control Policy, and is being carried out by The Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) -- a federal research organization with offices across the country.   He states to the blog

Participation is voluntary.  All data is anonymous.

If you're doing roadblocks and asking people to stop, you have to have the deputies there to make sure everything is safe.  It's not about detaining anybody, because the survey is voluntary and anonymous. It's about making sure the traffic is safe in that area.

Obama spying
The "study" on American drivers was funded and backed by the Obama administration.  The Bush administration authorized a similar study in 2007, although it did not allow passive scanning of those who refused to be tested. [Image Source: AFP]

While some may disagree with that conclusion he does raise an interesting point, noting that similar surveys were conducted in 1973, 1986, 1996, and 2007 -- although only two of those surveys were used to evaluate drug use.  The 2007 survey obtained 7,700 saliva samples and 3,300 blood samples.  Of those sampled 12.4% had alcohol in their systems, while about 16% were found to have marijuana, cocaine or over-the-counter or prescription drug metabolites.

IV. Latest NHTSA Survey is the First to Involuntarily Seize Samples

However, one key difference between past surveys -- including those who used blood tests to determine drugs -- is the use of automatic collection from passive sensors.  Some privacy advocates say that new tactic takes the past surveys from the realm of being questionable from a privacy perspective into a new era of flagrant abuse.

Susan Watson, executive director of the Alabama chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union called the detention and sampling of drivers an "abuse of power", remarking:

How voluntary is it when you have a police officer in uniform flagging you down?  Are you going to stop? Yes, you're going to stop.

The ACLU and other civil rights agencies are considering suing the federal government to try to shut down or limit the collection program.

Blood sample
The ACLU may sue to stop the supposedly "anonymous" collection of DNA and blood chemistry.
[Image Source: Getty Images]

Meanwhile the feds defiantly charge on.  They say they're well on their way to their goal of collecting samples from 8,000 drivers.  They say the effort follows "a highly scientific protocol and complex statistical design in order to accurately reflect the problem nationwide."

The 2007 survey, they point out, was used as the basis for the NHTSA recommendation that the legal blood alcohol limit be lowered from 0.08 to 0.05 percent.  The NHTSA asserts that by generating statistics to justify arresting more drivers who might be mildly impaired, it can protect Americans from themselves.

Sources: NBC News [1], [2; WGAL affiliate, AL], [1], [2]

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

dna annon?
By HostileEffect on 11/20/2013 7:07:37 PM , Rating: 2
DNA is not annonomous, especially for me since I'm government employed. Stop smoking stolen weed.. cough... confiscated weed.

RE: dna annon?
By JasonMick on 11/20/2013 7:16:40 PM , Rating: 2
DNA is not annonomous,
That depends on how it's collected.

It's true we leave many objects that could have DNA collected off them -- cigarette butts, bottles, roaches, food wrappers, kleenex. Or even bubblegum ... just ask Aaron Hernandez.

That said, in most cases LEOs (law enforcement officers) need a court order (i.e. a warrant, typically) to collect and process objects that might contain DNA.

Police can force people to take a blood test in some cases where driver intoxication is suspected. But this is a very different scenario as it's effectively a detention of a citizen in a case where there is no suspicious behavior or open/obvious evidence to suggest a crime was committed.
especially for me since I'm government employed.
I might be inclined to defend the government violating Constitutional rights too, if I worked for them and valued my money above public freedom.
Stop smoking stolen weed.. cough... confiscated weed.
Are you addressing yourself, Mr. "government employee"?

RE: dna annon?
By Reclaimer77 on 11/20/2013 10:34:30 PM , Rating: 5
100 bucks says that "anonymous" DNA goes into a database they'll use for god knows what. Protect and Serve, my ass.

This is just a big disgusting illegal fishing expedition. I know I shouldn't be at this point, but I'm just shocked they had the balls to pull something like this. And I'm equally shocked that it's being done in TEXAS of all places!

RE: dna annon?
By mike66 on 11/20/2013 11:57:01 PM , Rating: 3
shocked that it's being done in TEXAS

The state that executes more prisoners than any other and the state that has the largest jails and biggest prison population per head of any other. The place sounds just perfect.

RE: dna annon?
By spamreader1 on 11/21/2013 9:47:35 AM , Rating: 2
Meh, nobody here ever said it was perfect, everything's just bigger than everywhere else ;)~

RE: dna annon?
By marvdmartian on 11/21/2013 7:35:28 AM , Rating: 2
Not to worry! This is just Obama, collecting DNA from Red states, in hopes of building a bio-weapon that will leave Blue voters alone, but wipe out Red voters. It's all a part of his plan to become world dictator and potentate supreme, in 2016! [/tinfoil hat]

RE: dna annon?
By marvdmartian on 11/22/2013 10:30:08 AM , Rating: 2
Ooops! Must have bruised someone's feelings! Don't worry, little clueless's okay! Uncle Barry will buy you something with taxpayer money, and make it okay!!

RE: dna annon?
By Monkey's Uncle on 11/21/2013 11:00:20 AM , Rating: 1
The "study" on American drivers was funded and backed by the Obama administration. The Bush administration authorized a similar study in 2007, although it did not allow passive scanning of those who refused to be tested.

Really the only real reason Bush didn't allow passive scanning is because he didn't readily have the technology & balls to try it.

Passive collection if DNA is highly illegal since it constitutes search & seizure without a warrant. Warrants can only be issued on specific individuals and not entire populations.

So the question remains, if your government is undertaking illegal activities, why is that government still in power?

RE: dna annon?
By Dr of crap on 11/21/2013 12:23:03 PM , Rating: 3
The problem, we don't care to get involved anymore!
Just give me my xbox and a can of Monster!

RE: dna annon?
By HostileEffect on 11/20/2013 11:22:59 PM , Rating: 3
I think you are misunderstanding my position but I can't blame anyone now that I read my post with a somewhat rested mind. I had finished my last shift of barracks duty and was dirt tired and a phone isn't much to type from. Computer is broken and there isn't enough time to fix it before leaving Okinawa.

I have done just about everything from finger prints to blood samples. I would be surprised; if most biological materials were unable to be linked back to me.

I have no faith in law enforcement after having my face bashed in by two plain clothed (low life clothing) police or people serving the police on my front porch who had the wrong house and grossly outdated information. I have even less faith in due process and a fair trial given the powers that be.

The weed comment is referring to the people who thought setting up this event was a good idea. Police smoking contraband from evidence.

"I might be inclined to defend the government violating Constitutional rights too, if I worked for them and valued my money above public freedom."

I want you to go to a Marine infantry barracks and see how far this comment gets you. I make very little money as an E3 and for you to suggest I like seeing my country raped stupid isnt the brightest assumption. I have a laundry list of reasons why I'm not enlisting and being powerless to stop the perversion of my country is one of them.

I think it would be better to refrain from snide comments to begin with but if you are compelled to make them, at least know who you are making them to.

I'm more outraged than most because Texas is my home state, a place I never expected to see this come from so soon. I'll end on that note since I have nothing further to say.

RE: dna annon?
By HostileEffect on 11/20/2013 11:32:30 PM , Rating: 2
correction, reenlist, my phone has a nasty habit of trying to autocorrect everything I type. Since I have to double post, I might as well add that I have about six months remaining on my contract.

RE: dna annon?
By Samus on 11/21/2013 1:43:25 AM , Rating: 1
The "study" on American drivers was funded and backed by the Obama administration. The Bush administration authorized a similar study in 2007, although it did not allow passive scanning of those who refused to be tested.

Police Departments across the entire country have been using passive sensors at the butt-end of their flashlights for over a decade. They're commonly referred to as "sniffers" in the departments. The relationship on a federal level, to either the Bush or Obama administration, is a ridiculously unrelated point.

Jason, go work for Fox News if you want to push conspiracies. This article isn't 'daily' or 'tech'.

RE: dna annon?
By maugrimtr on 11/21/2013 8:45:48 AM , Rating: 2
Samus, you mean you don't know that Obama is personally responsible for every act committed and every word spoken by a federal employee or the employee of any federally (part or fully) funded entity?

Shame on you.

Now, while I think the wholesale collection of data before consent is given is clearly unconstitutional, most of the rest seems primarily ignorance. If I'm stopped by cops and someone who is not a cop requests I take some sort of test, then I tell them to go jump and release my vehicle before I sue their asses.

The article appears to illuminate citizen ignorance of their own rights against illegal search and seizure. That's a shame - but not a crime for either the person, the researchers, the cops or Obama. Also, you know, when they hand you bits of paper it's generally a good idea to read them. You quoted a person who simply did not say "NO!" so she could leave. Instead she accepted a form, heard out the compensation, blah, blah, blah. Apparently utterly incapable of just saying a two letter word.

RE: dna annon?
By M'n'M on 11/21/2013 1:26:41 PM , Rating: 2
The article appears to illuminate citizen ignorance of their own rights against illegal search and seizure. That's a shame - but not a crime for either the person, the researchers, the cops or Obama.

You are correct about people's ignorance but that's to be expected. How long can you be detained, w/o arrest ? I suspect only lawyers know all those answers.

More importantly just having the police stop you , w/o any suspicion of wrongdoing, violates your rights and is probably unlawful, even in TX (it would be in NH). Had they posted billboards "voluntary search and get paid" with arrows to some parking lot. Or had the personel handed out flyers at tollbooths, those would be different situations.

RE: dna annon?
By Samus on 11/21/2013 2:11:00 PM , Rating: 1
I think you've missed my point.

1) Data collected by police is on a state, not Federal level. Our government has nothing to do with it.

2) A sniffer can be used even if you are 100% the technology exists. The second you roll your window down, the data can be collected.

RE: dna annon?
By M'n'M on 11/22/2013 11:57:18 PM , Rating: 2
I think you responded to the wrong person. I don't care who got what data. The method used to collect it was wrong.

RE: dna annon?
By Belard on 11/27/2013 4:57:25 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah... I think Jason is trying to get a job at FOX or maybe he already works for newscorps and this is one of their baby-blogs that they can point to about "news".

Almost every post about "tech" its Obama personally doing it.

Yes, there are tech and politics issues that come up, these are needed - the rest, garbage. I remember the constant screaming from idiots blaming Obama for retiring the Space Shuttle Fleet (Bush #2 did that, Obama added a few more missions - nothing more) and cancellation of the F22 program (again, this was done before he was President).

RE: dna annon?
By that_guy on 11/24/2013 11:42:37 AM , Rating: 2
I want you to go to a Marine infantry barracks and see how far this comment gets you. I make very little money as an E3 and for you to suggest I like seeing my country raped stupid isnt the brightest assumption.

You make at least $1,787.35 per month gross(for those less than 2 years time in service), plus you have room and board, medical, dental, and 30 days paid vacation a year. You also get 36 months of college paid for when you get out, and roughly 800$ or more(depending on where your school is) a month on top of that for living expenses while in college if you have at least one class in seat(not online).
Face it, the job sucks, but the money and benefits ARE GREAT.
This is written as a Marine Sgt who got out regardless of the money.

“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki