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ACLU of Utah Asks Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Department About Memorial Day Checkpoints

28 May 2002 Published in Legal Advocacy

ACLU of Utah Asks Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Department About Memorial Day Checkpoints.

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ACLU of Utah Asks Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Department About Memorial Day Checkpoints

May 28, 2002

Aaron D. Kennard
Salt Lake County Sheriff
3365 South 900 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84119

RE: Governmental Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA)

Dear Sheriff Kennard,

I am writing regarding the vehicle checkpoints conducted by your office May 25 and 26, 2002 in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons. According to the Deseret News article Patrols Help Keep Picnics Drug Free, printed on Tuesday May 28, 2002, every car entering the canyons was stopped and each driver was checked for a valid driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance. According to the article “deputies also checked to make sure there were no drugs in the vehicle or open containers of alcohol.” The ACLU of Utah finds this portion of the traffic checkpoints, if true, highly suspect.

As I am sure your aware, Utah Code §77-23-104 requires written authority from a magistrate to conduct an administrative traffic checkpoint. Among other requirements, §77-23-104(2)(c)(iv) states that the written plan for the administrative traffic checkpoint must be “distinguishable by the magistrate from a general interest in crime control.” It appears from news accounts describing the checkpoints that the County’s general interest in crime control was indistinguishable from the County’s interest in checking cars for valid registration, proof of insurance and driver’s licenses. The Supreme Court of the United States recently found similar checkpoints unconstitutional violations of the Fourth Amendment where the checkpoints were not justified by severe and intractable nature of the drug problem, checkpoints could not be rationalized in terms of highway safety or by its secondary purpose of keeping impaired motorists off the road, and where the difficulty in examining each passing car did not justify suspicionless searches or seizures. City of Indianapolis v. Edmond, 531 U.S. 32 (2000).

Therefore, pursuant to the Utah Governmental Records Access and Management Act, Utah Code Ann. §§ 63-2-101 et seq., the ACLU of Utah requests the following documents in order to determine the constitutionality of the administrative checkpoints conducted by your office on May 25 and 26, 2002:

 

A copy of the written plan submitted to the magistrate according to Utah Code Annotated §73-23-104

A copy of the written order issued by the magistrate granting authority to conduct the traffic checkpoints on May 26-27, 2002

The number of cars stopped at the checkpoints

The number of cars searched during the checkpoints

The number of warnings issued during the checkpoints

The number of citations given for failing to have a valid driver’s license, proof of insurance or vehicle registration

The number of arrests made during the checkpoints for alcohol or drug violations and the Utah Code or other applicable criminal statute that applied

A copy of any written, electronic or spoken instructions to officers at the checkpoints in regards to searching vehicles for drugs or alcohol

Any written, electronic, or spoken communication regarding individualized suspicion to search cars for drugs or alcohol during the checkpoints

Any information regarding the use of drug dogs at the checkpoints, including but not limited to, if the drug dogs sniffed the outside or inside of vehicles and the corresponding number of vehicles that were searched in each way by drug dogs

 

If you have any questions about this request, please contact me. Please bill my office for any reasonable copying charge associated with providing the above information and documents.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Janelle Eurick
Staff Attorney
ACLU of Utah