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Several news outlets are reporting that the Texas Department of Public Safety has asked the Attorney General’s office for an opinion on whether driver checkpoints would be legal. Checkpoints have a checkered past. Checkpoints have not been allowed in Texas since the state Court of Criminal Appeals, the state’s highest court, ruled in 1994 they must be authorized by a "politically accountable governing body at the state level." That case involved a sobriety checkpoint in Arlington. In 1979, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that random traffic stops to check driver’s licenses, where officers did not have reasonable suspicion, were unconstitutional.

One question is the motive for the checkpoints because the purpose will definitely have an effect on how they are implemented. If the purpose is to protect Texas’s roadways, that’s one thing. But if, as some suspect, it is merely a way to enforce immigration law, that’s another.

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