Monday, April 11, 2011

DOJ Advisory on Military and Police Checkpoints

Last March 24, 2011, the Department of Justice released the first Advisory Opinion regarding the basic rights of citizens military/police checkpoints.

A checkpoint is a place where the police or the military check vehicular or pedestrian traffic in order to enforce circulation control measures and other laws or regulations. This may involve a brief interruption of travel or motion during which the person is required to answer a brief question or two.

DOJ came out with this initiative to protect the public from abuses committed by law enforcers and to avoid illegal checkpoints.

The ten (10) checkpoint rules outlined in the Advisory are anchored on the constitutional guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures (Section 2, Article III). These are:

Checkpoint must be well-lighted, properly identified and manned by uniformed personnel.

  1. Upon approach, slow down, dim headlights and turn on cabin lights. Never step out of the vehicle.
  2. Lock all doors. Only visual search is allowed.
  3. Do not submit to a physical or bodily search.
  4. You are not obliged to open glove compartment, trunk or bags.
  5. Ordinary/routine questions may be asked. Be courteous but firm with answers.
  6. Assert your rights, have presence of mind and do not panic.
  7. Keep your driver’s license and car registration handy and within reach.
  8. Be ready to use your cellphone at anytime. Speed-dial emergency number.
  9. Report violations immediately. Your actions may save others.