June 02, 2006

"Just Like the STASI, But You Are Safer and We Care!"

This has John Cole outraged. And I have to agree with him - our rights to be secure in our homes seem to be weakening by the hour.

Police may enter Californians' homes without warrants to arrest those suspected of driving under the influence, the California Supreme Court ruled Thursday in a case testing the scope of the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures ...

The case concerned the 2003 Santa Barbara arrest of Daniel Thompson, whom a neighbor suspected was driving drunk and notified authorities. They found a parked car matching the description the neighbor provided and went to the front door of the adjoining residence during a summer evening. The door was open and a woman said the car's driver was asleep. Moments later, Thompson walked by the officers and they entered the house and arrested him. The neighbor confirmed it was the person she suspected of driving intoxicated and throwing an empty vodka bottle out the car door.

If this nanny-state nonsense is all it takes to dispense with warrants you'd have to wonder if their days are numbered (at least in California).

Posted by armand at June 2, 2006 10:17 PM | TrackBack | Posted to The Ever Shrinking Constitution


By the way, if you didn't read Cole today (Friday) you should be sure to check out his posts. He's returned to blogging with a vengeance and among his other posts today he had some good observations and President Bush's shameful prioritization of the anti-gay marriage amendment and the latest attepted power grab by All Powerful Pooh-bah Master Imperator Gonzalez.

Posted by: Armand at June 2, 2006 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

This just seems silly. If they have a person filing a complaint, that would (in my limited knowledge of the law) seem like enough to get a warrant, which they could execute immediately. I have to agree with you, Bro, that in this case the cops seem to be taking exigent circumstances a bit far. Was the Court's reasoning because the police didn't bring any books to read to abet their boredom while waiting in front of the guy's house? I'll trade my 4th ammendment liberties to protect lives in danger, but for the convenience of the police appears to tilt that balance a bit more than I'd like. The blood alcohol level doesn't plummet unless the person didn't have that much to drink in the first place, so if the person was really drunk, they still wwould be in another hour, unless it was one of those namby pamby .08's or something like that. If it was about .2 where the person was severely impaired, it wouldn't be cut in a third in the hour or two it would take to get a warrant. This does create a dangerous excuse that police could use to search homes. At least it appears from the article that these warrantless searches are specifically limited to arresting the individual, and not more broadly construed.

Posted by: Morris at June 3, 2006 12:51 AM | PERMALINK

I'm short on info because I haven't read the decision, but an identified informant, without much more, is enough to constitute probable cause which is pretty much the whole battle, exigent circumstances (the steady diminution of BAC over time) being what they are.

Bearing in mind that something in the decision, were I to read it, might be problematic, this strikes me as a tempest in a teapot.

Posted by: moon at June 4, 2006 01:36 AM | PERMALINK

An identified informant is all you need for probable cause that will allow for warrant-less police entry into your home for - anything? Now I'm even more troubled.

Posted by: Armand at June 4, 2006 08:39 AM | PERMALINK

for entry into a home, you also need some sort of exigency, but in other contexts the necessity prompted by the relatively steady diminution of BAC over time has been construed as sufficient exigency to warrant corner-cutting.

Posted by: moon at June 5, 2006 12:57 PM | PERMALINK
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