TSA makes its first reported VIPR car checkpoint

by Wendy Thomson on January 5, 2012

On Dec. 28th, a VIPR team stopped and searched cars on their way to the Sarasota, Fla., airport.

The interesting thing about this exercise is that there are reams and reams of case law concerning car searches. I thought I would put it out here so that all of us can know the law and act accordingly.

Number 1: You do not need to consent. An officer’s hunch without evidence of illegal activity is not enough to search your car. Before searching, he must observe something real. The major exception to the probable cause requirement for vehicle searches is consent. Most vehicle searches don’t occur because police have probable cause. They occur because people get tricked or intimidated into consenting to search requests.

Number 2: You have the right to remain silent. All you have to do is announce that . There is no law that compels you to indulge these men and women in their game.

Number 3: You have the right to leave. When you state “Am I free to go?” a law enforcement officer must either articulate the law you are supposedly breaking or allow you to leave.

Number 4: The TSA cannot detain you, but they can ask an LEO (law enforcement officer) to detain you. If a TSA screener asks a police officer to detain you, then Number 3, above, applies.

Number 5: You have a clear right to videotape law enforcement officers in a public place.  This is supported and specifically cited in a 2011 case heard in the First Circuit Court of Appeals.

I have a dream. I see an entire train car, person after person, calmly stating “I do not consent to this search.”

I have a dream. I see driver after driver in a VIPR setting calmly stating “I do not consent to this search.”

I have a dream.

Previous post:

Next post: