SEARCH AND SEIZURE – Dui Roadblocks: Mark E. Bauder v. Commonwealth of Kentucky (SC 10/29/2009)

Mark E. Bauder v. Commonwealth of Kentucky
2008-SC-000056-DG October 29, 2009
Opinion by Justice Cunningham; all sitting.

Bauder entered a conditional plea to DUI charges, reserving his right to appeal the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress evidence from the traffic stop as a violation of his right against unreasonable seizure. Bauder was pulled over after he turned onto a side street in order to bypass a Kentucky State Police DUI roadblock. The trooper admitted that he pulled Bauder over just as he did all motorists who try to evade roadblocks. The trooper also testified that he did not observe Bauder committing an offense prior to stopping him, but based upon his considerable experience, motorists who tried to evade roadblocks were often intoxicated or driving on a suspended license. The Court held that under Terry, the trooper had a reasonable suspicion that criminal activity was afoot to make a stop. The majority relied upon Steinbeck, a 1993 Court of Appeals opinion to uphold the stop and affirm the conviction, holding that under the totality of the circumstances, the traffic stop was justified and that to hold otherwise would entitle motorists to “simply blow through roadblocks with a wave and contemptuous grin.” The Court concluded that there “would be no law on our highways.”

The dissenters (Justice Venters, joined by Chief Justice Minton and Justice Noble) dismissed this conclusion as “absurd hyperbole.” The minority contended that the majority had expanded Steinbeck to allow police to “apprehend and detain any person who acts in a manner that suggests an aversion to police contact.”

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