Facebook is buzzing with upset local residents after unconstitutional checkpoint surprised traveling motorists. Checkpoints are becoming more and more a part of the scenery in many parts of the country. The most well known checkpoint being DUI checkpoints. Today’s checkpoint however, wasn’t trying to catch drunks it was trying to catch polluters.
The smog checkpoint was earlier today on Ygnacio Valley Rd between Alberta Way and Ayers Road in Concord. The checkpoint was ran by California Highway Patrol and expensive tax payer funded smog equipment was used at the checkpoint. The smog tests are run by the California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR). These tests are technically voluntary, but with the hype, road signage and the presence of a highway patrolmen flagging people down, it does not come off that way to many drivers.
Angry residents have taken to Facebook and Twitter; posting pictures, videos and even their own meme calling the checkpoint “fascist”.
Concord Mom, Tammy, shared some of her frustrations over being stopped. “This is the first day of school! And they picked an already congested area to set it up! Ridiculous!” Doug Morgan of Clayton said “It’s an inconvenience. People have things to do and there out there wasting time and tax payer money!”
The Bureau of Automotive Repair do advertise that the tests are voluntary and only take about 10 minutes. What isn’t mentioned in their public service announcements is that if you fail the test you will be issued a citation. Even if you pass, many drivers are complaining that CHP will issue citations for check engine lights and other petty infractions.
The tests are set up similar to smog checks at a service station. Technicians drive the vehicle up onto an elevated metal dynamometer to check the car’s components and systems, indicator lights, ignition timing, gas cap and exhaust recirculation system.
Initially set up as a “one-time inspection” in 1966 by the California Highway Patrol, this program has continued to grow and expand. 1996 gave way to bi-annual inspections that were tied to the registration process of the vehicle. This means that by accepting a California driver’s license and registration, you are agreeing that you will comply with this law or that you will be subject to legal consequences.
In 2002, the California Health and Safety Code added Section 44081, which was meant to give the code and existing smog laws some “teeth.” This specific section gives police officers in California the authority to randomly stop vehicles to “ensure their compliance with state smog laws.” The first portion of the section reads:
44081. (a) (1) The department, in cooperation with the state board, shall institute procedures for auditing the emissions of vehicles while actually being driven on the streets and highways of the state. The department may undertake those procedures itself or seek a qualified vendor of these services. The primary object of the procedures shall be the detection of gross polluters. The procedures shall consist of techniques and technologies determined to be effective for that purpose by the department, including, but not limited to, remote sensing. The procedures may include pullovers for roadside emissions testing and inspection.
Combined with the bi-annual inspections that are tied to vehicle registration and Section 44081 and what do you end up with? Today’s smog checkpoints.
California drivers are required to pass emissions test to be registered in the state. It would seem that these checkpoints are more than a little redundant. Not to mention that California is bankrupt. California Taxpayers Association researchers counted $443 billion in state and local debts. That’s a whooping $11,600 for each of California’s 38 million residents.
In light of the redundancy of the testing, and with the state budget statistics in mind, one can only conclude that the California legislature wants to spend money it doesn’t have, and wants the public to grow accustomed to being flagged down by police in broad daylight for customary checkpoints.
Special thanks to Ghost Rider for the photos and the meme. Also special thanks to “The General” for the video below.
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