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When police set up traffic checkpoints looking for signs of drug use walking a narcotics detecting dog around the car and examining drivers licenses and registration does that practice violate the Constitutions protection against unreasonable searchesFrom August to November of 1998 police in Indianapolis set up six traffic checkpoints to look for signs of illegal drugs transported on city streets Officers stopped cars checked each drivers license and registration looked for signs of drug-related impairment of drivers and walked a drug-sniffing dog around the car If the dog alerted then the officers search the car Drivers approaching the stops were warned with signs that said Narcotics checkpoint ahead narcotics K-9 in use be prepared to stopPolice found the checkpoints to be highly successful out of more than 1100 cars stopped 104 people were arrested about half for drug offenses and half for traffic violationsBut two drivers who were stopped at the checkpoints James Edmond and Joell Palmer sued the city in federal court claiming that the checkpoints violated the Fourth Amendments protection against unreasonable searches They argued that it was improper for police to stop cars without having any suspicion that the divers were violating any traffic or drug laws They lost in the trial court which ruled that the stops were fairly non-intrusive and that the city had a serious interest in catching drug users and traffickers But a federal appeals panel reversed agreeing with the drivers that the stops were unconstitutional The panel found because the purpose of the roadblocks was to catch drug offenders the police had to have suspicion that each car they stopped might be involved in a crime General stops it said would be justified only if there were some urgent consideration of public safety such as a belief that a car loaded with dynamite by a terrorist was on its way downtownThe court drew a distinction with sobriety checkpoints which courts have generally upheld reasoning that they are
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