Utne Blogs > Arts and Culture

Drug Checkpoints Ahead

 by Keith Goetzman


Tags: arts, music, festivals, drug checkpoints, bust, police, rights,

If skanky porta-potties, mud wallows, and $5 bottled water weren’t enough of a deterrent to attending many music festivals, there’s always the possibility that the local sheriff is setting up a “drug checkpoint” on the road to the fest, shifting your focus from My Morning Jacket to My Arrest for Marijuana Possession. Phillip S. Smith writes in Drug War Chronicle about the many techniques that cops use to snare unsuspecting music fans, and what festivalgoers should know about their rights.

The tips range from common sense to counterintuitive. Some highlights:

--Don’t smoke pot in your car, and don’t have any paraphernalia in view.

--Don’t ever consent to a police search of your car. It’s your right to refuse. “It might be couched in terms of a command, but it is a request,” Steven Silverman of the civil liberties group Flex Your Rights tells Smith. Be polite but assertive, the experts advise.

--Drug checkpoints per se are unconstitutional, but some law enforcers skirt or defy the law. They’ll call it a “safety check,” or put up a “Drug Checkpoint Ahead” sign, “then watch who turns off the highway at the next ramp or who throws something out his car window,” says Silverman. “Then they pull them over for littering or failure to signal a lane change or something.” Don’t fall for this trap to “lure the freaked out,” Smith writes.

(Thanks, Alternet.)