Fort Worth Cops Collected "Voluntary" Blood, Saliva Samples During Lunchtime Roadblock

SobrietyCheckpointAhead.jpg
fairfaxcounty.gov
On Friday afternoon, Kim Cope was driving along Beach Street in North Fort Worth on her lunch break when she was stopped at a police roadblock. After being ushered into a nearby parking lot, she was given a menu of options.

"They were asking for cheek swabs," she told NBC 5. "They would give $10 for that. Also, if you let them take your blood, they would pay you $50 for that."

She opted for the $0 Breathalyzer, she told the station, "just because I thought that would be the easiest way to leave."

Sobriety checkpoints are an established law-enforcement tool that's been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, but they usually don't happen in the middle of the day, they're usually not quite so invasive and they typically are not a commercial transaction.

But Cobb wasn't stopped at a "sobriety checkpoint." She was merely asked if she cared to participate in the 2013 National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drugged Driving, an occasional study conducted by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. It's completely voluntary, though the blockage of a major street police officers (Fort Worth PD says they were off-duty) tends to give the opposite impression.

The NHTSA survey, previously conducted in 1973, 1986, 1996 and 2007, wasn't always so invasive. In the first three iterations, drivers' blood-alcohol content was measured through breath tests. In the latter study, after concluding that it was feasible to collect saliva and blood samples, researchers began to do so. As a result, they can now detect the presence of drugs other than alcohol.

In 2007, 86 percent of drivers provided a breath sample, 71 percent gave a saliva sample, and 39 percent gave a blood sample. Of the drivers who offered saliva or blood samples, 8.6 percent tested positive for marijuana, 3.9 percent for cocaine, and 1.3 percent for methamphetamine.

It's not clear what, if any, public outrage was ginned up during 2007, but the story has been somewhat different this year. In July, when researchers were collecting data in Alabama, the roadblocks prompted a modest outcry and an inquiry from the governor.

The Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, the federal contractor conducting the study, has downplayed concerns, describing its time in Alabama as a "wonderful experience" and that the "public was very receptive," and the NHTSA offered assurances that DNA was not collected.

It will be a couple of years yet before the results of the current survey are released. The 2007 study showed that the percentage of drunken drivers has dropped by two-thirds since 1973, from 7.5 percent than 2.2 percent. It also concluded that men and women with the same BAC have equal risk of being involved in a crash but that, because fewer women reach high BAC levels, they are involved in fewer fatal crashes.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson

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40 comments
kfries1
kfries1

Fifty bucks? How many times can I come back?

TexMarine
TexMarine

Interesting that some of the comments fault FWPD...but they weren't the ones conducting the survey, just the thugs enforcing volunteerism.  Welcome to your future.

tagkev1
tagkev1

just  ask  if  you are  being  detained...if  not..drive  away

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Update:

Fort Worth police department apologized for their appalling behavior.

Elliott
Elliott

Restore the 4th Amendment

blackrambo1026
blackrambo1026

police are the real terrorists.

i feel no sympathy when they are killed

albertbbroman2
albertbbroman2

Is Texas losing its mind?  So just how soon can you secede?

marmy
marmy

Blood samples or cheek swab ?? Don't Kid yourself, if they paid you for it they can do whatever they want with it. Your DNA will be entered into Ft worth's DNA databank, which will eventually be part of a national registry. Right now we are told it's just the FBI's CODIS computer software program that operates local, State, and national databases of DNA profiles which they say is ONLY from convicted offenders, and forensic DNA retrieved from unsolved crime scenes. How much do you want to wager that your sample is not run against those on file to see if it matches anything ??

In the near future the Dept of Homeland Security under the Patriot Act will commandeer ownership of this database and through law make EVERYONE submit their DNA under the guise of the greater good. 

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

How much for a cavity search?

kayo
kayo

This is sinister on so many levels, but not surprising.  I remember when people who resisted the idea of random drug testing years ago invoked the 'slippery slope' concept and some rejoined with "What have you got to hide?!"  Some people may have had something to hide but as this erosion of the Fourth Amendment carries on, we all have something to lose.

gritsforbreakfast1
gritsforbreakfast1

Not exactly correct that sobriety checkpoints are legally kosher (and your assertion on that point has a bad link).  Texas law allows license and registration checkpoints but not for DWI, though the Court of Criminal Appeals in 2011 gave them a lot of extra wiggle room. Here'she Texas case that currently governs them: http://www.cca.courts.state.tx.us/OPINIONS/HTMLOPINIONINFO.ASP?OPINIONID=20505 

The governing US Supreme Court case, Indianapolis v. Edmond, prohibited roadblocks for general crime control but allowed them for checking drivers licenses and registration. See: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=000&invol=99-1030


Using roadblocks for a government research project is just weird. To my knowledge there's no court ruling, state or federal, governing such activity because nobody has ever used police for that purpose before this program. Just bizarre. To me, though, if a uniformed cop is ordering people to stop, it's a police action, not just a research project.

russell.allison1
russell.allison1

The fact that they're also seeking cheek swabs makes me wonder if they're adding to a national database of DNA samples.  There was a case of at least one police department collecting DNA from people encountered on very minor offenses (e.g. unpaid traffic tickets) ; a court ended that practice, so this may be an end-around to continue collections.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

As I said before, Arlington pulls this shit under the guise of a DL and insurance check.  And no, those are not voluntary.  And of course the great award winning Arlington PD social media duo never tweets from those.

ruddski
ruddski topcommenter

This story is popping up on right-wing websites, and the reaction seems negative like yours. That means you and Glenn Beck actually agree.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

Anyone arrested at these National Highway Transportation Safety Administration mandatory stops conducted by off duty FWPD personnel?

Or was it truly for survey purposes only?

Doubt it.  That's why the Feds funded the mandatory stop and used "off duty" PD.

From a city revenue standpoint, it is a free shot on the citizen.  Doesn't cost the City to man the stop and they get the benefit (revenue) off the prosecution of it.

Homeland Security now partially funds most SWAT teams across America.  Just in case they ever need them for internal security.  

Same dynamic on seizure of assets upon arrest for drug trafficking.  You don't ever get your stuff back even if the charges are dropped. Homes, cars, planes and boats are auctioned off and the taxing authority keeps the revenue.

MelodyH1
MelodyH1

I would have gladly given them a stool sample. For free!


tdkisok
tdkisok

I would have taken $100 for a semen sample.

scerinjen3
scerinjen3

Proof that even pond scum can operate a computer.  

Discordia
Discordia

@albertbbroman2 Do you realize what the word 'National,' means? No? Please stay in the confines of your Seattle Village Voice comments section, and stop polluting this one with idiocy and smugness.

msbcez
msbcez

@gritsforbreakfast1 Id definitely have to say that regardless of it being. voluntary, its very likely threatening enough in nature, that a lot will submit to it out of fear of looking guilty.  Regardless of why they are pulling people over as well, do they intend to not arrest or detain anyone obviously under the influence during this survey? Cause if not, then its just another sobriety check point, under a vail of other tasks.
Any surveys of such nature need to be done by non public officials, so they are not tempted to manipulate the system to abuse power.
DUIs should be assigned to those that are a danger to the road, many people are capable of handling a few drinks and driving unhindered and thlyey shouldn't be stopped, harassed or givin violations, unless drivng erratically.  From my understanding,  A BAC violation could take as little as 2 drinks, being 210lbs that's around it would take minimum 5 to even be slightly beginning a buzz, so I hardly think I should be at risk to fail a BAC if I have 3 or 4, and drive home completely safe.
Furthermore police abuse roadside tests  that give them cause to take BAC as a next step.  Even while walking were threatened with a Public intoxication by police, that, no shit made me stare at his finger until I failed.  I sat there and stared his finger over 5 friggin minutes, my wife longer, to the point she just had to laugh and say REALLY (it should obviously take no more than a few passes not 20) then we were told to find a ride home or we would be taken to jail.  And given 5 minutes to do so. Asked if we could call a taxi they said nope not fast enough.  
Some police need to obviously find a better moral compass, or have leadership that keeps them on track of not circumventing the system or abusing power to get the results they want.

kayo
kayo

@russell.allison1 One day such collections will be commonplace.  And one day 'donated' DNA will be used by corrupt cops and ambitious prosecutors to close cases and get convictions.  Welcome to the Brave New World.

notmadeomoney
notmadeomoney

@holmantx The purpose of the "survey" was to determine what percentage of drivers would just consent to something like this.

ruddski
ruddski topcommenter

That would be quite a switch from your having to pay to donate, eh?

scerinjen3
scerinjen3

This road block things sounds like total BS. Not the story - just that they got away with that crap! There are no sobriety check points in Texas. Ft Worth officials just got a bug up their butt and decided pulled a cute one.  Found what thought was a way around it. Voluntary my ass.

That being said, just for clarity - 2 drinks won't put a 210lb person over .08 if they have consumed them in about an hours time.  Actually 2 beers would probably not put you over .08 (the legal limit in Texas) if you chugged them in 10 minutes.  But is it possible to get chraged with DWI if your BAC is less than .08 - YES!  People can be intoxicated on more than alcohol.  Mostly they're messed up by the ever popular combo of weed and alcohol. Or drug x,y, or z and alcohol. Also, the nutty thing about alcohol is that after you have those "3 or 4" drinks and you THINK you're driving great. You're not doing as well as you think you are probably.  Even very low BACs, well under the legal limit, have been shown to impair driving to some mesurable degree.  Mostly in the area of reaction time.

I would reccomend not giving the man the opportunity by just NEVER driving after drinking or drugging anything - ever.  

scerinjen3
scerinjen3

...or to use DNA to clear people who have been wrongly convicted. Just sayin' - it's happend.  I don't want big brother - who does? According to this article and most recent DO articles and a bunch of commenters here, any time the police leave their offices they're engaging in some kind of unconstitutional uber opressive action to further enslave the general population and honor the Fuhrer.  Convicted felons must give the DNA sample, and that's fine.     

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@notmadeomoney @holmantx 

and if stose stopped had outstanding warrants or were driving impaired?

what was the probable cause for pulling them over in the first place?

NotReallyThanks
NotReallyThanks

@ruddski Hey let's be fair. I'm sure he gets paid to receive semen samples each and every weekend. 

tdkisok
tdkisok

@ruddski 


Once again, proof Righties have a bad sense of humor.


TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@scerinjen3 

You'll get no argument from me on that. Just saying, in the scheme of things, txtrs IMO, are far more problematic from a safety standpoint, but (so-far) they get less attention than drunks.

Random checkpoints, however, strike me as intrinsically un-American and grate on me for reasons I can't quite articulate.

scerinjen3
scerinjen3

Hulk - yes. You're 100% right. There are soooo many ways to F up while driving. Cell phones, Texting, driving fatigued (falling asleep), etc.  I just want folks to eliminate as many variables as possible and be safe. Drunk and drugged driving (including legal prescription meds) is a BIG problem across the country. Always has been.  I know most people have sort of a natural distrust of 'the man' and say things like "it's just about the money - it's a hustle" or something along those lines. That's kind of short sighted and sounds a little like denial.  We're all out there on the road together and considering what's at stake - we should do whatever is necessary to be safe.   

scerinjen3
scerinjen3

No Scotts. It was .10 before it was .08. No change in prosecution rates after the law changed in 1999. You are an impaired driver at BAC's lower than .08. Accidents occur at BAC's from 0.01 (or sober) to as high as it takes to put a person in a coma which is around .4.  Average BAC at time of arrest is .16 in Texas. Average BAC of people who have killed themselvs drinking and driving: .12.  As far as the revenue goes - it takes money to fight a war.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@scerinjen3 

As a motorcyclist, I'm far more concerned about drivers texting behind the wheel than I am about drunks. I can't tell you how often I watch people losing their lane or having to make drastic last minute stops or corrections because their eyes and hands are on their phones instead of the the road and the wheel, respectively. 

Drunks are fairly easy to spot and avoid, - txters are completely unpredictable.

Not to say impaired driving is a good thing.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

yup, but .12 limits were not bringing in enough revenue so we got .08.  I bet .06 or .04 is less than 10 years away

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