Since the 1970s, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has conducted periodic roadblocks involving tests of drivers to see how many are under the influence. The increasingly secretive nature of the testing came under a ton of fire this year, and now Congress has said, "You're done."
The $1 trillion "Cromnibus" spending bill approved by the U.S. House late Thursday night includes a provision that bars NHTSA from conducting these surveys on motorists as they have for years.
The $8 million program first drew public attention and considerable ire from civil liberties activists in 2013 when it was conducted in the Dallas area using local police. Drivers were stopped at a roadblock and directed into a testing area where they were asked about their drinking and drug use habits.
Though motorists weren't charged with crimes if found to be under the influence, the fact that testers used secret passive alcohol sensors to gauge their intoxication regardless of whether they wanted to participate angered the public and lawmakers alike.
Since the incident in Fort Worth, which the police chief had to apologize for after a local TV station reported on the roadblocks, many local departments have refused to participate. In March, NHTSA officials said they would stop using the sensors to test drivers secretly.
It seems now that they won't be performing the surveys at all anymore.
From The Detroit News:
Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wis., who chairs the committee that held the hearing, raised concerns that motorists aren't properly informed.
"It could appear to motorists that they were driving into a DUI checkpoint," Petri said. "Increasingly, we are living in a society where people are worried about 'Big Brother' ... and we need to be sensitive to that."