When Voluntary Isn’t

Just saw this article and this one, regarding drivers forced off of the road by uniformed police officers and into a parking lot where they were solicited for a “voluntary” contribution of blood, saliva, or breathalyzer tests.  

This was not a new iteration of a sobriety checkpoint, but rather a means of getting people to participate in a “voluntary” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) survey.  The survey is nothing new, occurring first in 1973, then 1986, 1996, 2007, and now 2013.  But the methodologies have been different.  Also interesting is the increasing frequency of this survey. 
Ostensibly, the purpose of the “voluntary” survey (which, did I mention, people were forced into at least hearing about participating by uniformed off-duty police personnel, who look IDENTICAL to on-duty uniformed police personnel, since the uniform is the same?!) was to generate a random statistical sampling of how many people are driving under the influence.  
I presume the survey was anonymous, however they’re taking samples from people in their cars.  Their cars are registered and therefore it’s pretty easy to identify who it is they received samples from.  People were paid for their “voluntary” contributions.  Breathalyzer participation wasn’t compensated, but according to one article, it wasn’t voluntary either, having already begun prior to the consent form having been signed.  I presume that nobody was arrested based on the results of their tests.  
I also find it interesting that the NHTSA claims that no DNA has been collected, although each of these collection methods would (in my admittedly limited understanding) provide material for DNA sampling.  
So we have a government agency collecting physical evidence from people who have been forced into an area where at the very least they get the impression that their participation is required (uniformed police personnel), and where some data is collected even before or without their signed consent.  The information isn’t truly anonymous because the data is collected in vehicles presumably registered to the person or someone very close to them, making them identifiable.  In addition to the readings on blood alcohol content or the presence of drugs in the system, it’s possible that enough material to run DNA testing could also be generated from the samples.
Golly, nothing to worry about there, folks!  

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s