While I was at the Center for Alcohol Policy’s annual legal symposium, the Supreme Court denied certiorari in Virginia v. Harris. This was a petition seeking review of a 4-3 Virginia Supreme Court decision that held that an anonymous tip of a suspected drunk driver was not sufficicent for a police officer to pull over the driver. A police officer needs indpendent corroboration first before she can pull over a drunk driver.
In a strongly worded dissent from the denial of certiorari that was joined by Justice Scalia, Chief Justice Roberts expressed his concern over the failure to review this case. He noted in very strong terms the deadly problems associated with drunk driving and cited to NHTSA data showing 13,000 deaths per year, or one every 40 minutes, resulting from drunk drivers. He closed his dissent with his opinion that the “police should have every legitimate tool at their disposal for getting drunk drivers off the road.” I agree. And I also believe the state legislatures and alcohol regulators should have every tool at their disposal for getting drunk drivers off the road; regulating the alcohol industry; and protecting the public. It will be interesting to see if someone reminds Justices Scalia and Roberts of their opinion the next time a 21st Amendment related case is before the Supreme Court!