SOBRIETY CHECKPOINTS ARE ILLEGAL IN R.I.
Sobriety Checkpoints violate Article I, Section VI of the RI Constitution
The Rhode Island Supreme Court has held that sobriety roadblocks or checkpoints established to apprehend drunk drivers which operate without probable cause or reasonable suspicion violate the Rhode Island Constitution. Pimental v. Department of Transportation, 561 A.2d at 1348, 1352.
Sobriety checkpoints have been found to be constitutionally permissible under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, however, the individual states are free to provide additional protections under their state constitutions. The RI Supreme Court has unequivocally found that Article 1, §6 of the Rhode Island Constitution provides greater guarantees against unreasonable searches and seizures than the "minimum level of protection" provided under the fourth amendment to the the federal constitution.
The Pimental court reached this holding even though it expressly found that
Roadblock seizures are prohibited by Article I, Section VI of the Rhode Island Constitution because:
Civil Liability Under RI Right to Privacy Statute
Searches which violate the Federal and/or RI State Constutions may be actionable an "unreasonable intrusion" upon one's "physical solitude or seclusion" under RI's Right to Privacy Statute.
Although an explicit right to privacy cannot be found in either the Federal Constitution or the RI State Constitution, Rhode Islanders have been granted this right by statute. R.I.G.L. §9-1-28.1(a)(1)
The statutory Right to Privacy includes
the "right to be secure from unreasonable intrusion upon one's physical solitude or seclusion."
In order to recover for violation of this right, it must be established that:
Successful successful plaintiffs are entitled to compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorneys fees.