Loudoun Sheriff’s Day Out

August 7, 2008 | 5 Comments

Here’s a note I just submitted to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office. I think a few of the people who pay attention might have something to say about this.

On Wednesday, August 6th, I was driving home on Countryside Blvd. when I encountered what I can only describe as a checkpoint at the intersection with Carrollton Rd. Both directions of Countryside were blocked and all vehicles were being detained, as far as I can tell, without cause. I was asked by an officer to show my driver’s license and upon quick inspection was waved along.

Given the media attention that was received seemingly similar activities in D.C., I was wondering if you could provide some information as to what occurred that day and why. I’m worried this may have been a violation of mine and other citizens’ civil liberties, but would like to reserve judgement until I have more information.

I appreciate your time and considerate attention to this inquiry.
Thank you.

It didn’t occur to me to question the basis for asking for ID and it didn’t really anger me until after I left the checkpoint. I went back out with a camera to document what was going on. To their credit, the police didn’t seem to mind me taking pictures. At 6:45pm, just as I was about to drive through the roadblock again and this time refuse to show ID, they all simultaneously and unceremoniously packed up and went home.

Not even sure what to make of it. Someone’s already suggested I’m overreacting, and that may be so, but I nevertheless was left with an uneasy feeling. Some pictures below.

Northbound CountrysideNorthbound Countryside DetailSouthbound CountrysideMobile Command Unit on Southbound Countryside

Update: I received a quick and helpful response from the Sheriff’s Office with this information:

Mr. Averbuj, for several years the Loudoun Sheriff’s Office have conducted Driver’s License Checkpoints throughout the county as a continuing crackdown on unlicensed drivers. We have conducted three such checkpoints this Summer.  The location for the checkpoints are selected based on deputies who report a number of unlicensed drivers during their daily traffic stops.

During the checkpoint on Wednesday nine motorists were cited with driving without  a license and two for driving on a suspended license. Those were among the 42 citations issued during the 3 hour checkpoint.

I found a page on the very recent overruling of similar roadblocks in South Carolina, and the SCOTUS decisions that govern such activity.


  1. Cool that they replied. I think I support this as a way to enforce license law, though I’m not sure how legal it is. Proof of my car’s registration and inspection are visible on the outside of the car (I got cited recently for an expired registration), but there’s no other way to ensure people are licensed. Without being able to verify and enforce licenses, why bother having them…

    Comment by Mike — August 8, 2008 #

  2. Papers, Please, Comrade^WConsumer

    Comment by http://openid.aol.com/kilpatds — August 8, 2008 #

  3. to Mike, have you ever read the Constitution?

    FOURTH AMENDMENT [U.S. Constitution] – ‘The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.’

    All police checkpoints are wrong.

    Comment by datdamwuf — August 9, 2008 #

  4. I’m with those who think it oversteps.

    There were recently cases in New York whereas the police set up “motorcycle only” checkpoints. While they did find some violations (i.e. improper helmets, out of date registration etc), it’s too likely that it’d be used for harassment.

    Comment by timojhen — August 10, 2008 #

  5. I don’t know the laws in that jurisdiction, however I can tell you that they are in fact legal in Florida.. so long as they are properly advertised. The checkpoint must be advertised via local news paper and I think sometimes the local news channels with the date/times. There is also some law as to who can be stopped. This means you can stop and request papers from every 3rd car. My understanding is that it HAS to be random of this sort to prevent any kind of profiling or “unfair” stops. As far as refusing to show ID or papers? I would advise against that as it is a lawful request at that point and refusal could lead to an arrest. Could you fight it and get it tossed? Most likely, but do you want to test that theory? The short of it is, if you aren’t a bad guy and happen to be one chosen, who cares? It’s two minutes of your time and you will be on your way. The fist thing people will say when the news talks about some loser with a suspended DL who crashes into and kills a family is, “Where were the cops? The cops should have been stopping him instead of me!” Well, as soon as you invent and market that crystal ball which actually tells us which car contains the badguys, I am sure you will have every dept. in the US banging on your door to buy one. Until then, they have to use what tools are available to them. ;-) My two cents.

    Comment by Bryan — April 14, 2010 #

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