Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the NMA’s Driving Freedoms Magazine in the Fall of 2020. If you would like to receive the NMA’s quarterly magazine, join the NMA today!
Check out the other two posts in this series:
Joe Cadillic of the MassPrivatel blog and cowriter of the NMA’s Street Surveillance blog has, for years, been tracking the various types of government roadblocks and checkpoints. His list falls into eight broad categories:
Agricultural: Officers check for pests on produce or firewood, and any hunting/fishing violations.
Criminal or Fugitive Hunt: Police set up checkpoints to look for dangerous criminals who have recently committed a crime and pose a threat to public safety.
Enforcement Campaigns: ‘Click It or Ticket’ seatbelt checkpoints are prime examples of local, county, or state law enforcement stopping motorists in search of violations.
Events: Checkpoints are set up before and after events such as concerts, sporting contests, fairs, festivals, movie premieres, parades, and similar large public gatherings. Police officials advertise dragnets as a safety check but more likely are put in place as a sweep for illegal drugs, weapons, or impaired drivers.
General Traffic Crimes and Auto Safety Checks: Officers stop drivers to check for license/registration/insurance compliance, make smog checks, look for general equipment violations, and improperly installed child seats.
Illegal Private Checkpoints: Citizens, many times armed, set up checkpoints in a rural area or neighborhood to protect property during disasters.
Interior Border Checks: The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) carry out checkpoints within one hundred miles of US national boundaries. They also stop and board buses to check for illegal immigrants.
Research Roadblocks: Police stop vehicles to ask whether volunteers would provide bodily fluid samples to gather data on drivers as a group.
Check out the NMA Issue page on Roadblocks for more information.
Check out the following NMA Resources on Checkpoints and Roadblocks.