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motorcycle_checkpointFor the last two years motorcyclists have argued that motorcycle checkpoints were a form of profiling and violated their constitutional rights. A federal judge in New York disagreed. Judge Gary Sharpe ruled today that the motorcycle checkpoints in New York’s main focus was to keep people safe and that they did not impede on anyone’s constitutional freedoms.

Sharpe wrote:

“The court concludes the checkpoints were enacted to promote motorcycle safety, a manifest public interest; they were effective in addressing this interest; and that any interference with individual liberties was not only minimal, but also grossly outweighed by the interest advanced.”

The interference with individual liberties was grossly outweighed by the interest advanced… – That’s a dangerously fine line to walk.

The Wall Street Journal reports that program, enacted in 2008, was centered around large motorcycle rallies in the state. Four motorcyclists sued NY State Troopers saying that the motorcycle checkpoints were a pretext to look for criminals and that they were intrusive and unfair to motorcyclists.

Attorney Mitchell Proner said he would appeal the ruling. Proner said: “The intrusion on civil liberties is something that shouldn’t be countenanced… It’s obvious just from their own internal documents they’re looking for criminal activity… The fact they didn’t find crime doesn’t mean that wasn’t what they’re fishing for. That just shows you’ve got law abiding citizens on motorcycles primarily being inconvenienced.”

Here are some stats according to Sharpe’s ruling.

  • 5,342 motorcycles passed through 17 checkpoints in 2008.
  • Authorities inspected 2,278 of those vehicles.
  • They made four criminal arrests
  • They issued 1,064 tickets
  • 365 for helmet violations
  • 99 for other safety violations
  • 600 for non-safety violations.

What do you think about motorcycle checkpoints? Do they promote safety? Or are they profiling motorcyclists?

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2 Comments on this post

  1. Profiling, with a smattering of intimidation. And a dash of hoping that the inconvenience will prompt motorcyclists to take their car instead of their bike. And a pinch of revenue.

    JackD / Reply
    • It’s a safety study, what happen to the study? Did the NTSB state that they were to give out tickets, or was it to check on the safety of the bikes that were ridden on the road for the study!

      Rick Kirk / (in reply to JackD) Reply

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