The federal government is
spending $8 million on a study to determine the number of drunken
or drug-impaired drivers on the road. The way the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration decided to make this scientific
calculation is causing some concern: They’re apparently forcibly
pulling cars over en masse and asking them to “voluntarily” give
them some blood or saliva to test.
It happened in Fort Worth, Texas, recently, prompting at least
local one woman to ask, “WTF?” Courtesy of NBC’s Dallas-Fort Worth
“It just doesn’t seem right that you can be forced off the road
when you’re not doing anything wrong,” said Kim Cope, who said she
was on her lunch break when she was forced to pull over at the
roadblock on Beach Street in North Fort Worth.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is
spending $7.9 million on the survey over three years, said
participation was “100 percent voluntary” and anonymous.
But Cope said it didn’t feel voluntary to her — despite signs
saying it was.
“I gestured to the guy in front that I just wanted to go
straight, but he wouldn’t let me and forced me into a parking
spot,” she said.
Once parked, she couldn’t believe what she was asked next.
“They were asking for cheek swabs,” she said. “They would give
$10 for that. Also, if you let them take your blood, they would pay
you $50 for that.”
Government science at works, folks. Cope said she submitted to a
breath test because she “felt trapped.”
NBC turned to a local civil liberties attorney who looked at the
forms given to those who had been pulled over. It turned out the
claim that participation was voluntary was nonsense, even beyond
Cope and others being forced into the parking lot. The form stated
that drivers were tested by “passive alcohol sensor readings before
the consent process has been completed.”
In addition, the NHTSA hired off-duty local police officers to
man the roadblock, so attempting to convince drivers that their
participation to test to see if they were currently breaking the
law was completely anonymous probably did not pan out well for
them. A column in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram
noted that a previous similar effort in 2007 had one out of six
drivers declining to participate. That seems like a high enough
refusal rate to throw any actual figures the agency comes up with
The NHTSA has done similar studies throughout the years since
the ‘70s. You can access their previous results
here and determine for yourself it this is anything more than
creepy government busywork. The tests show a pretty significant
decline in the number of folks testing positive for alcohol while
behind the wheel since they started these surveys, and hardly
anybody was showing high levels of alcohol in their system during
the daytime in 2007. Their own previous results makes the delaying
of people on their lunch breaks all the more annoying.
from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/20/would-you-like-to-give-your-blood-and-sa