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Transportation Government Privacy

Texas Drivers Stopped At Roadblock, Asked For Saliva, Blood 783

Posted by Soulskill
from the also-need-an-eyeball-scraping-and-a-chunk-of-lung dept.
schwit1 writes "Some drivers along a busy Fort Worth street on Friday were stopped at a police roadblock and directed into a parking lot, where they were asked by federal contractors for samples of their breath, saliva and even blood. It was part of a government research study aimed at determining the number of drunken or drug-impaired drivers.The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is spending $7.9 million on the survey over three years, said participation was '100 percent voluntary' and anonymous. The 'participants' hardly agree."
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Texas Drivers Stopped At Roadblock, Asked For Saliva, Blood

Comments Filter:
  • Re:Booze Bus (Score:5, Informative)

    by Zaelath (2588189) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @01:27AM (#45470173)

    Booze buses don't take DNA as saliva or blood ... and they sure as f#&k aren't run by contractors.

  • Re:Booze Bus (Score:5, Informative)

    by cheater512 (783349) <> on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @01:36AM (#45470201) Homepage

    They can take blood if a initial drug test comes back positive (if they test for drugs).

    But yeah contractors doing it is pretty dodgy.

  • Re:Food for thought (Score:5, Informative)

    by Entropius (188861) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @02:03AM (#45470317)

    Yes, my license to drive is conditional on me being sober. It does not give the government permission to harass me to see if I am sober without any evidence that I am not.

  • Re:Food for thought (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @02:36AM (#45470421)

    Except that in the US, these rights are not granted by law, they exist regardless of it.

    The concept of natural rights is a relic of the 18th century when people believed in a magical sky fairy (however Deist they might have been) who could grant these rights. Now that it is obvious that there is no god, natural right theory is untenable. The best one can do is see rights as a convenient fiction that increase total happiness, but they are granted by the complicated interplay of state and society and are not somehow innate.

    I agree with you about the need to change the Constitution. So much of the wrangling over it in recent decades comes from a recognition that the values of a few 18th-century superstitious farmer-gentlemen are not what our contemporary society wants, but there is no sufficient social momentum for serious rewriting (nor would the government with its NSA allow such momentum to build), so one either has to read the Constitution in creative ways, or just flat-out ignore it.

  • Re:Booze Bus (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @02:44AM (#45470453)

    Most roadside drug tests use a cheek swab test.

  • Re:Food for thought (Score:5, Informative)

    by PerformanceDude (1798324) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @03:00AM (#45470527)
    Actually, the Police did jam a camera up someone's ass in New Mexico recently - without proper cause. Details here: []
  • Re:Food for thought (Score:5, Informative)

    by dcollins (135727) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @03:00AM (#45470529) Homepage

    "By your broken logic, a cop should be able to jam a camera up your ass since you might be carrying illegal narcotics up there."

    Current cases studies on such:

    "Last week, news wires, blogs and pundits lit up with the horrifying story of David Eckert, a New Mexico man who last January was subjected to a series of invasive and degrading drug search procedures after a traffic stop. The procedures, which included x-rays, digital anal penetration, enemas and a colonoscopy, were all performed without Eckert's consent..." []

  • Re:Booze Bus (Score:5, Informative)

    by dryeo (100693) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @03:03AM (#45470551)

    In Canada it is a Doctor or medical technician, who can refuse to draw blood if they don't feel like maybe being subpoenaed to court later and they have to take 2 samples so you can request one and get an independent test.

  • Re:Food for thought (Score:2, Informative)

    by dryeo (100693) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @03:23AM (#45470623)

    The summary said this was volunteer, the cops are free to ask for permission to search you and you're free to say no. No rights violated unless there is coercion or such. Around here all the cops can do is ask to see your license and registration. They do lean really close and sniff and if they smell something suspicious they can demand a breath sample. Demanding a blood sample IIRC always needs a warrant as searching the interior of your body is as invasive as it gets. For you to defend yourselves they take 2 blood samples so you can independently test one.
    This is Canada

  • Re:Food for thought (Score:5, Informative)

    by rockout (1039072) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @03:31AM (#45470645)
    You must not have read the article (big surprise). It was supposed to be voluntary; apparently a number of people didn't feel like it was voluntary at all, given what they actually experienced.
  • Re:Booze Bus (Score:5, Informative)

    by AlphaWolf_HK (692722) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @03:57AM (#45470727)

    It's a bit vague, but the contractors could just be there to do the actual sampling, and it's the police officer who forces them to submit. Probably better that way as I wouldn't trust cops to be phlebotomists (not because they're cops, but because even actual dedicated phlebotomists tend to miss veins too much IMO, and somebody who does it less often would probably be worse. I should know as I have to make frequent visits to get blood work.)

    Also, and while I'm not trying to justify the situation at all (it actually stops being justified at a point long before the contractors are involved,) it's less wasteful if you contract somebody on a temporary basis rather than hire them full time for a project that you have no intention of running for a long time, only to wonder what the hell you're going to do with them when it's over and they're still getting paid with full time benefits.

    Of course, if the government didn't make it so damn expensive to terminate employees that you no longer have a use for then it would be more attractive to actually hire people directly instead of so much contracting, even if it is only temporary. At least that way you could get benefits while working and/or don't have to work through a third party company who gets paid more for your work than you who are actually doing the labor.

  • Re:Booze Bus (Score:5, Informative)

    by thegarbz (1787294) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @04:55AM (#45470875)

    At the roadside?

    Sometimes. And yes they are taken by nursing staff and sent of to a lab for analysis. Basically if your booze bus looks like a minivan you're going to blow through the tube, and if you blow above 0.05 you have the option to accompany the police and accept the punishment, or the option to challenge the police and get taken back to the station for a blood test and then accept the punishment.

    If your bus is the size of an interstate travel bus you can likely get the blood test on site. Either way it's a voluntary method of inconveniencing those who think they can game the system, or those who were silly enough to quickly down a shot and jump straight into the car.

  • Re:Booze Bus (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @04:55AM (#45470877)

    You must be new here.

    Governments typically have limits imposed on them, and provide a juicy (wealthy) target should something go wrong.

    It seems all bets are off when it comes to contractors and, when worse comes to worse (in terms of law suits) they'll close down one shell company and open another the next day.

  • Re:Food for thought (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dunbal (464142) * on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @05:40AM (#45471047)
    Yup I remember reading that and thinking at the time that any physicians involved should be disciplined by their medical college and have their license status re-examined, if not suspended. We doctors are not executioners for the state. Unless there is a valid medical reason to perform a medical procedure AND I have consent for said procedure, I cannot ethically perform said procedure. If the cops threaten to arrest me for "obstruction" or whatever, the correct answer for a physician is "then arrest me but I cannot do this". Police can never order physicians around and force them to use their art for non medical reasons. That's the main argument behind states not being able to get their hands on say, "lethal injection" drugs. The state is not licensed to practice medicine.
  • Re:Booze Bus (Score:5, Informative)

    by AmiMoJo (196126) * < minus poet> on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @08:36AM (#45471571) Homepage

    Taking the option to go to the police station is often a good bet if you are near the limit. By the time they arrange to get you back there and do the test, especially on a busy Friday night, you might be under the limit again.

    If you are sneaky you can even pretend to be more drunk than you are, so they don't prioritize your test on the assumption that you will still fail four hours later.

  • Re:Booze Bus (Score:5, Informative)

    by khallow (566160) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @09:04AM (#45471687)

    If the government exercises its right

    To emphasize this point further than cheekyjohnson's excellent reply, governments do not have rights in the US. Citizens have rights. It is painfully clear in the US Constitution that rights are intended only as a partial enumeration of restrictions and constraints on government activity against various categories of people, individually or in groups (particularly, "the people", "citizens", and "voters").

    The only distinction I would make is that governments in the US have "powers" not "privileges". That's the usual term in the Constitution for the stuff they are allowed and mandated to do. In practice, I believe attempts to take away such things have often been found unconstitutional. For example, the US Congress occasionally delegates too much power to the executive branch via legislation and the US Supreme Court has found those to occasionally be unconstitutional.

    There is only one place in the US Constitution where a government body is alleged to have rights. The Twelfth Amendment alleges that the US House of Representatives has the possibility of a "right of choice" in selected an elected president (basically after the usual electoral methods fail, and the House gets their chance at picking a US president). This terminology is echoed again in the Twentieth Amendment which modifies the same part of law (and hence, has to use the same terminology as the Twelfth Amendment).

    I think that single instance can be explained as someone screwing up the language of the former amendment when they wrote it.

    Bottom line is you don't know what you're talking about when you speak of "rights" of a US-based government.

  • Re:Booze Bus (Score:4, Informative)

    by omnichad (1198475) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @10:30AM (#45472287) Homepage

    phlebotomists tend to miss veins too much IMO

    No kidding. I read a study at least 5 years ago saying that you should not flick on veins to bring them to the surface when drawing blood. The pain response will constrict the veins. Instead, you should gently massage the area. To this day, I've always had my veins flicked at. Thankfully I have very large veins, but my wife isn't so lucky.

  • Re:Booze Bus (Score:4, Informative)

    by nblender (741424) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @12:36PM (#45473425)

    I was at a buddy's place a couple weeks ago... I had 4 beers while helping him work on his truck in the span of about 3.5 hours. In the past, I've calculated by my weight, that I can tolerate 1 can of beer per hour and still be fine so that has been my basic guideline. Anyway, I got about half a mile from his place and ran into what we call a "Checkstop" which is essentially a bunch of police cars and officers standing by visually profiling who to interview. I was asked whether i'd been drinking and how much and I answered honestly. I was asked to step out of the vehicle and to blow into a small handheld device. After a few false starts where I either blew too slowly or too quickly, or ran out of breath, I managed to blow a .025. Based on how I was feeling, I would probably have chosen not to drive if I'd had any more beer or less time... Based on my own gauge of drunkeness, I can conclude I've never driven anywhere near the lower limit (.05 here)... I realize everyone is not the same but I think you'd have to be a retard to feel you're ok to drive at .05 and .08 is right out.

If you steal from one author it's plagiarism; if you steal from many it's research. -- Wilson Mizner