Sitz v. Department of State Police, Docket No. 93823

CourtCourt of Appeal of Michigan (US)
Writing for the CourtLAMBROS
Citation429 N.W.2d 180,170 Mich.App. 433
PartiesRick SITZ, Joseph F. Young, Sr., Dominic J. Jacobetti, Dick Allen, Keith Muxlow and Jack Welborn, Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. DEPARTMENT OF STATE POLICE and Gerald L. Hough, Director of the Michigan Department of State Police, Defendants-Appellants. 170 Mich.App. 433, 429 N.W.2d 180
Decision Date27 September 1988
Docket NumberDocket No. 93823

Page 180

429 N.W.2d 180
Rick SITZ, Joseph F. Young, Sr., Dominic J. Jacobetti, Dick
Allen, Keith Muxlow and Jack Welborn,
Plaintiffs-Appellees,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE POLICE and Gerald L. Hough, Director of
the Michigan Department of State Police,
Defendants-Appellants.
Docket No. 93823.
170 Mich.App. 433, 429 N.W.2d 180
Court of Appeals of Michigan.
Submitted July 27, 1987.
Decided Aug. 1, 1988.
Released for Publication Sept. 27, 1988.

[170 MICHAPP 434] Stark & Gordon by Deborah L. Gordon, Mark R. Granzotto, and William Gage, Detroit, for plaintiffs-appellees.

Frank J. Kelley, Atty. Gen., Louis J. Caruso, Sol. Gen., Thomas L. Casey, Asst. Sol. Gen., and Patrick J. O'Brien, Asst. Atty. Gen., for defendants-appellants.

Before GRIBBS, P.J., and HOLBROOK and LAMBROS, * JJ.

LAMBROS, Judge.

This case presents the question[170 MICHAPP 435] of the constitutionality of sobriety checkpoints. Although this issue has been addressed by

Page 181

the courts of over one-half of the states in this country, the Michigan appellate courts have not before now had occasion to consider this important issue. 1 In a comprehensive sixty-page opinion following a bench trial of this case, Wayne Circuit Judge Michael L. Stacey concluded that the defendants' sobriety checkpoint plan violated both the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and art 1, Sec. 11 of the Michigan Constitution. The court accordingly entered an order permanently enjoining defendants from implementing their plan to conduct sobriety checkpoints along state highways. We affirm.
I

1982 P.A. 310 established the Michigan Drunk Driving Task Force in the Department of State Police, M.C.L. Sec. 257.625j; M.S.A. Sec. 9.9325(10). The Task Force was charged with reviewing all aspects of the drunk driving problem in the state. In September, 1985, the Task Force submitted its final report which set forth thirty-five recommendations for combating alcohol-related traffic accidents. One suggestion was the implementation of sobriety checkpoints on public highways. Due to legislative opposition, defendants did not attempt to implement sobriety checkpoints at that time.

In his State of the State Address on January 29, 1986, Governor Blanchard directed defendants to implement a sobriety checkpoint pilot program. In February, 1986, defendant Gerald L. Hough, Director of the Michigan Department of State Police, [170 MICHAPP 436] appointed a Sobriety Checkpoint Advisory Committee, composed of representatives of the State Police, local law enforcement officials, prosecuting attorneys, and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. The committee drafted guidelines for the program. The guidelines set forth procedures as to site selection, publicity, and operation of the checkpoint, including briefing, scheduling, safety considerations, motorist contact, staffing and assignment of duties.

Under the program, checkpoints would be established at certain sites along state highways. All motorists would be stopped upon reaching a checkpoint and would be examined for signs of intoxication. Should the examining officer find indications of intoxication, the officer would direct the driver to an out-of-traffic location, check the driver's license and car registration, and possibly conduct further sobriety tests, including a Breathalyzer test. If the officer concluded that the driver was intoxicated, the officer would have discretion to arrest the driver; should the officer conclude the driver was not intoxicated, the driver was to be released.

The first sobriety checkpoint operation was conducted at Dixie Highway and Gretchen Road in Saginaw County on May 17 and 18, 1986. The Saginaw County Sheriff's Department cooperated in the operation which lasted from about 11:45 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. One hundred twenty-six vehicles passed through the checkpoint in that time, with an average delay to motorists of twenty-five seconds or less. Two drivers were retained for sobriety field tests; one was arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol. A third driver drove through the checkpoint without stopping, was pulled over by an officer in an observation[170 MICHAPP 437] vehicle, and was arrested for driving under the influence.

This action was commenced on May 16, 1986, with the filing of plaintiffs' complaint for a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief. Plaintiffs are licensed drivers of the State of Michigan who regularly travel throughout the state in their automobiles. During the course of the initial proceedings, defendants agreed to delay implementation of the sobriety checkpoint program pending resolution of the case.

Trial took place from May 29, 1986, through June 3, 1986. In its opinion dated June 24, 1986, the trial court found that, although there was statutory authority for the operation of the sobriety checkpoints, the plan violated the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and art 1,

Page 182

Sec. 11 of the Michigan Constitution. Defendants challenge both these findings on appeal.
II

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides in pertinent part:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons ... and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated."

The United States Supreme Court has distinguished the high expectation of privacy an individual has in a home from the lesser privacy interest in an automobile. South Dakota v. Opperman, 428 U.S. 364, 96 S.Ct. 3092, 49 L.Ed.2d 1000 (1976). As a result, the Fourth Amendment does not afford the same level of protection against searches and seizures without warrants of automobiles as of a residence. Chambers v. Maroney, 399 U.S. 42, 90 S.Ct.[170 MICHAPP 438] 1975, 26 L.Ed.2d 419 (1970), reh. den., 400 U.S. 856, 91 S.Ct. 23, 27 L.Ed.2d 94 (1970). Nonetheless, stopping a vehicle and detaining its occupants is a seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648, 653, 99 S.Ct. 1391, 1396, 59 L.Ed.2d 660 (1979).

The Supreme Court first considered the use of roadblocks for investigatory stops in two border patrol cases. In United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, 422 U.S. 873, 95 S.Ct. 2574, 45 L.Ed.2d 607 (1975), two officers on roving patrol stopped a vehicle to determine whether it was transporting illegal aliens. The officers admitted they had no reason to suspect the car was being used for illegal purposes. The Court held that while probable cause is not required for such a stop, the border patrol could not arbitrarily stop automobiles without some grounds:

"Except at the border and its functional equivalents, officers on roving patrol may stop vehicles only if they are aware of specific articulable facts, together with rational inferences from those facts, that reasonably warrant suspicion that the vehicles contain aliens who may be...

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12 practice notes
  • Sitz v. Department of State Police, Docket No. 93851
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • September 14, 1993
    ...§ 11 of the Michigan Constitution. I The following facts in this case are undisputed and are set forth in the Court of Appeals opinion, 170 Mich.App. 433, 435-437, 429 N.W.2d 180 1982 PA 310 established the Michigan Drunk Driving Task Force in the Department Page 211 of State Police, MCL 25......
  • Sitz v. Department of State Police, Docket No. 131032
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Michigan (US)
    • April 20, 1992
    ...the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and therefore Const.1963, art. 1, Sec. 11. Sitz v. Dep't of State Police, 170 Mich.App. 433, 429 N.W.2d 180 (1988), lv. den. 432 Mich. 872 (1989), rev'd 496 U.S. 444, 110 S.Ct. 2481, 110 L.Ed.2d 412 (1990). The United States Supreme Cou......
  • Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz, No. 88-1897
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 14, 1990
    ...ratio in the one checkpoint conducted by Michigan and with the 1 percent ratio demonstrated by other States' experience. Pp. 453-455. 170 Mich.App. 433, 429 N.W.2d 180 (1988), reversed and remanded. REHNQUIST, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which WHITE, O'CONNOR, SCALIA, and K......
  • Hagood v. Town of Town Creek
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • September 3, 1993
    ...the Michigan Court of Appeals held that the sobriety checkpoints violated the Fourth Amendment. Sitz v. Department of State Police, 170 Mich.App. 433, 429 N.W.2d 180 (1988). When that decision was overturned by the United States Supreme Court in Michigan Dep't of State Police v. Sitz, 496 U......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
12 cases
  • Sitz v. Department of State Police, Docket No. 93851
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • September 14, 1993
    ...§ 11 of the Michigan Constitution. I The following facts in this case are undisputed and are set forth in the Court of Appeals opinion, 170 Mich.App. 433, 435-437, 429 N.W.2d 180 1982 PA 310 established the Michigan Drunk Driving Task Force in the Department Page 211 of State Police, MCL 25......
  • Sitz v. Department of State Police, Docket No. 131032
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Michigan (US)
    • April 20, 1992
    ...the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and therefore Const.1963, art. 1, Sec. 11. Sitz v. Dep't of State Police, 170 Mich.App. 433, 429 N.W.2d 180 (1988), lv. den. 432 Mich. 872 (1989), rev'd 496 U.S. 444, 110 S.Ct. 2481, 110 L.Ed.2d 412 (1990). The United States Supreme Cou......
  • Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz, No. 88-1897
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 14, 1990
    ...ratio in the one checkpoint conducted by Michigan and with the 1 percent ratio demonstrated by other States' experience. Pp. 453-455. 170 Mich.App. 433, 429 N.W.2d 180 (1988), reversed and remanded. REHNQUIST, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which WHITE, O'CONNOR, SCALIA, and K......
  • Hagood v. Town of Town Creek
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • September 3, 1993
    ...the Michigan Court of Appeals held that the sobriety checkpoints violated the Fourth Amendment. Sitz v. Department of State Police, 170 Mich.App. 433, 429 N.W.2d 180 (1988). When that decision was overturned by the United States Supreme Court in Michigan Dep't of State Police v. Sitz, 496 U......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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