City of Indianapolis v. Edmond 531 U.S. 32, 121 S. Ct. 447, 148 L. Ed.2d 333 (2000)
The police in Indiana set up
some checkpoints to stop drugs. They pulled over random drivers and used
drug sniffing dogs to search for drugs.
The police were instructed
that they could only perform a search if they got consent or of there was some individualized
suspicion (like the driver appeared
to be stoned). Also, each stop was to last no longer than 5 minutes.
They found drugs in about 9%
of the cars they pulled over!
Edmond, and some other people
who had been stopped, sued for an injunction.
They argued that the stops
were an unreasonable invasion of privacy and therefore barred by the 4th
The Trial Court found for
Indianapolis and did not issue the injunction. Edmond appealed.
The Appellate Court reversed
and issued the injunction. Indianapolis appealed.
The US Supreme Court affirmed
The US Supreme Court found
that the suspicionless stops were not reasonable because the primary
purpose of the stops was to detect evidence of ordinary criminal
Compare to Michigan
Dept. of Police v. Sitz (496 U.S.
440 (1990)), where the primary purpose was to get drunk drivers off the
road, and United States v. Martinez-Fuerte (428 U.S. 453 (1976)), where the primary
purpose was to stop illegal immigration.
argued that the primary purpose of the checkpoint was to get intoxicated
drivers off the roads, but the Court felt that the primary purpose was to
find drugs, not to find intoxicated drivers.
In a dissent it was argued
that the Court had already said it was ok to stop people at a sobriety
checkpoint, and that having a dog sniff around the car was not really any
more invasive, so what's the problem?
The basic rule in this case is
that a suspicionless search
consisting of stopping people at random, without individualized
suspicion or probable cause can be considered constitutional. But, it must
be an administrative search.
An administrative search is one conducted for reasons other
than ordinary criminal law