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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

On My Soap Box

I try to be diplomatic and see two sides to ever story. Even if I am alerted about some issue, I see myself as listening to the whole story to see if I can find middle ground. I said I try. However, recently there was an ongoing thread on my favorite forum that had me stewing. There are two items actually the seem to fly in the face of violating our constitutional rights, but I will focus on one that concerns motorcyclist since this is the main theme of my blog.

A forum member reported that at a particular intersection in their local town, the police set up a roadblock and pulled every motorcycle over. No cars, trucks or any other vehicle, just motorcycles. Through inquiry and by an article in the local paper it was learned that the citizens of this fine town were tired of the loud motorcycles at this intersection. OK, this is a legitimate complaint, especially if there is a noise ordinance, or decibel level requirement for motorcycles in this area. So why was each and every motorcyclist pulled over? One can hear a loud motorcycle. Why not just pull that one over? This is not what happened. One person was even ticketed for loud pipes although the officers did not use a meter to measure the decibel level. One forum member made a statement that you don’t need a meter to see straight pipes. (His assumption of course was that the pipes were indeed straight.) Still, if the law requires a meter, then one should be used.

There is another concern. It seems the police were checking for motorcycle endorsements on the licenses. I didn’t read anywhere that indicated the police pulled over cars and trucks to see if the drivers had a license? There is a whole ball of wax I could go into with this. For example, in some states, you cannot be pulled over simply for non-seatbelt wearing, but if pulled over for other reasons can be ticketed if you are not wearing your seatbelt. Well, if the pipes are loud, pull the person over, and then look at his license, check to see if he’s inspected, if he has an approved helmet etc. Can you see how things would go if the police pulled over every vehicle on a particular given day to inspect if your wearing your seat belt, if your license plate is displayed properly, if you are indeed licensed? We can’t seem to get habitual offenders off the road, but it seems OK to target a particular group.

In three other towns of this fine state, checkpoints are being set up to stop bikers with loud pipes. The police will be equipped with decibel readers and will not ticket but “educate” the rider about legal noise limits. That sounds better to me. In NY, the police set up roadblocks and stop motorcycles that are on their way to Lake George for the annual rally. There are some legal and constitutional issues with targeting groups. Motorcycle only roadblocks in my opinion violate Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. Stopping a particular group on the way to a gathering is a violation of the First Amendment rights to freedom and assembly and freedom of association.

“What’s the big deal” I have had some say to me. It is believed that it will blow over, and the citizens will once again have a quiet corner. The big deal is that as a nation we have become complacent at having are liberties chiseled away, little by little. Why? Because “what’s the big deal” or “why rock the boat.” I say if you don’t stay vigilant you will soon be stripped of the liberties that are granted to you in the Constitution. Now don’t even get me started about banks demanding they fingerprint you just to cash a check.

I know I have rambled and this is not my typical free flowing form, so here are a few links to help you understand the magnitude of the problem.

http://www.telegram.com/article/20090726/LETTERS/907260433

http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090522/NEWS/905220324

http://www.fox61.com/news/wtic-bikers-complaints-with-cops-0722,0,7908266.story

http://www.salemnews.com/punews/local_story_204232851.html

And I don’t have a link for this but here’s the text:

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - June 8, 2009) - Proner & Proner, Attorneys at law, have filed a Federal class action lawsuit in the Federal Court for the Northern District of New York against the New York State Police as well as New York State and county authorities to stop them from conducting motorcycle-only roadblocks near popular motorcycle events. Last year the New York State Police and county sheriffs stopped every motorcycle en route to twelve different events for "safety checks." With the riding season starting, the New York State Police expect to conduct up to fifteen motorcycle-only roadblocks throughout the state this year. The events targeted include Americade in Lake George, the largest motorcycle event in the Northeast.
Mitchell Proner, an active motorcyclist and personal injury attorney, is initiating the lawsuit on behalf of all motorcyclists. Mr. Proner said that the New York State Police "uses the pretense of safety inspections to delay and harass motorcyclists without any reasonable belief that any laws are being broken." Although courts have upheld DWI checkpoints as generally permissible, "These motorcycle roadblock stops are lengthy and do not address any legitimate safety concerns," according to Mr. Proner.
Mr. Proner alleges that these motorcycle-only roadblocks violate the motorcyclists' Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. In addition, by specifically targeting motorcycle events, New York State is infringing on the motorcyclists' First Amendment rights of freedom of assembly and freedom of association.
For further information please contact Proner & Proner at 60 East 42nd Street, Suite 1448, New York, New York 10165, (212) 986-3030 or on the web at
www.bikerhelp.com

5 comments:

PatnWilton said...

This message was left by someone name "springs" who signed up for a profile just to leave a comment. I will post it here. Please realize that you don't have to hide behind a secret ID to make a comment. My e-mail address is fully visible on my blog and you may write to me anything you wish. Staying annonymous is not my preference. Also, as you read the comment below, I have to say loud pipes are a problem. Cars require mufflers, and anything legal to quiet bikes is acceptable. Random roadblocks and violation of rights is not. That is the point of this blog in case you missed it.

------annonymous comment below......
Loud bikers have angered and will no doubt continue to anger more and more Americans. Voluntary efforts have failed to quiet down many bikers who ride with illegal exhaust systems. So, law enforcement seems to be the needed solution. Residents of Denver and Green Bay enjoy their homes, neighborhoods and communities much more now since they have enacted Environmental Protection Agency motorcycle noise compliance label-based ordinances. This has been very successful in reducing motorcycle noise pollution. And other cities are considering such ordinances. There's more information on this at the Noiseoff website.

Baron's Life said...

This is bizzare begavior...but we are seeing it happening in Ontario and Alberta more often

mq01 said...

smells like harassment to me...

PatnWilton said...

mq...harassment...at the very least.

Anonymous said...

I'm new around here, seems like a cool place though. I'll be around a bit, more of a lurker than a poster though :)
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