Why are ramp checks allowed when random traffic stops are not?

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by Huckster79, Sep 16, 2021.

  1. Huckster79

    Huckster79 Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2018
    Messages:
    1,845

    Display name:
    Huckster79
    This was mentioned in a reply on another thread but prompted my wonder…

    Law enforcement is not constitutionally allowed to see me in a parking lot doing nothing wrong and roll up and inspect my vehicle and check my license and such…

    however in my airplane they could….

    Why is one considered out of bounds by the 4/5th amendment and the other isn’t?

    Both driving and flying are privileges not rights, so that’s not it. Ones federal ones state regulated but I still don’t think the FBI could just do a vehicle inspection when I walk out of Walmart…

    I’m just curious of what technicality allows for one but not the other…
     
    Let'sgoflying! and GaryM like this.
  2. RudyP

    RudyP Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2008
    Messages:
    1,150
    Location:
    SF Bay Area, CA

    Display name:
    RudyP
    One would tick off everyone and the media so it’s a nightmare of a PR battle to fight. The other inconveniences less than 1% of the population that is widely perceived to be ‘rich’ so no one cares and the media won’t make an issue of it.
     
  3. Rich Holt

    Rich Holt Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2021
    Messages:
    46
    Location:
    Walterboro, SC

    Display name:
    holtyrd
    This. I think most people secretly, or not so secretly, hope to see the "rich" suffer. Trading Places, I think, is a decent example of this in popular media.
     
  4. Rich Holt

    Rich Holt Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2021
    Messages:
    46
    Location:
    Walterboro, SC

    Display name:
    holtyrd
    [​IMG]
     
  5. Salty

    Salty Final Approach

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2016
    Messages:
    8,883
    Location:
    FL

    Display name:
    Salty
    You have stickers on cars to show compliance with regulations. If the stickers are not up to snuff, you can be stopped.

    do you want to have to have to prove compliance annually and get a government sticker to affix to your plane as proof?


    Secondly, there are weigh stations to verify compliance with weight of trucks, and nobody complains about a violation of the constitution, something which is not an issue with cars, but is with aircraft.
     
    A Martin and Lindberg like this.
  6. tawood

    tawood En-Route

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2015
    Messages:
    2,558
    Location:
    SE Michigan

    Display name:
    Tim
    Under your scenario of being parked in a parking lot: in our state (Michigan) police are allowed to run your plate without any reason, then run the registered owner for wants/warrants (it's considered public information).

    In a plane, there are specific things the FAA can check, such as your certificate/medical/W&B/registration (?), and they can make a "walk around" check of your aircraft. But they can't board it or search without your permission.

    As far as why they can check your certificate/medical? IDK.
     
    Huckster79 and Lindberg like this.
  7. luvflyin

    luvflyin Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    Messages:
    11,139
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA

    Display name:
    Luvflyin
    Do you mean FSDO doing ramp checks? Can the local deputy dawg do it also without probable cause? I dunno. Just thinking this sound like maybe an apples n oranges thing.
     
  8. tawood

    tawood En-Route

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2015
    Messages:
    2,558
    Location:
    SE Michigan

    Display name:
    Tim
    Oh, and in many states (but not Michigan), random traffic stops ARE allowed in the form of sobriety check lanes....
     
  9. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2007
    Messages:
    11,012
    Location:
    Maryland

    Display name:
    Check_my_Six
    traffic stops in MD happen for just about any reason.......light out, no signal lane change......etc.
     
  10. sarangan

    sarangan Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2008
    Messages:
    1,355

    Display name:
    Andrew, CFI
    My theory is that police cars are always running your plates. If anything shows up, they can stop you. My wife was stopped one time for an expired driver's license. She didn't know it had expired. But the officer somehow did. How they made the connection between the plate number and who might be driving the car is a mystery to me.
     
    A Martin likes this.
  11. Rushie

    Rushie En-Route

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2006
    Messages:
    2,668

    Display name:
    Rushie
    Basically because the 4th amendment protection has a long list of exceptions and I’m guessing airplanes would be considered an administrative search where the public’s interest outweighs the individual’s right to privacy, basically, government says so, because basically what @RudyP said.

    “By 1992, it was no longer the case that the “warrants-with-narrow-exceptions” standard normally prevails over a “reasonableness” approach….Exceptions to the warrant requirement have multiplied, tending to confine application of the requirement to cases that are exclusively “criminal” in nature. And even within that core area of “criminal” cases, some exceptions have been broadened.
    The most important category of exception is that of administrative searches justified by “special needs beyond the normal need for law enforcement.” Under this general rubric the Court has upheld warrantless searches by administrative authorities in public schools, government offices, and prisons, and has upheld drug testing of public and transportation employees…
    In all of these instances, the warrant and probable cause requirements are dispensed with in favor of a reasonableness standard that balances the government’s regulatory interest against the individual’s privacy interest; in all of these instances, the government’s interest has been found to outweigh the individual’s. The broad scope of the administrative search exception is evidenced by the fact that an overlap between law enforcement objectives and administrative “special needs” does not result in application of the warrant requirement; instead, the Court has upheld warrantless inspection of automobile junkyards and dismantling operations in spite of the strong law enforcement component of the regulation.”


    https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution-conan/amendment-4/search-and-seizure

    Disclaimer, I’m not a lawyer and haven’t bothered to try to find cases involving airplane searches without warrant. I didn’t even read the entire page I linked above.
     
    Huckster79, Tools and tawood like this.
  12. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2013
    Messages:
    10,485
    Location:
    Lenoir City, TN/Mineral Bluff, GA

    Display name:
    Fast Eddie B
    In theory, and in general, a traffic stop requires probable cause in the form of an observed infraction.

    I recall courts have ruled that things like DUI checkpoints are legal if they are truly random - I.e. stopping every car or every fifth car or whatever. Not saying I agree, but that’s what I recall as the legal justification. The way the laws are mostly written a driver is compelled to show his or her license, registration and proof of insurance (if required) regardless of whether the stop is legitimate. The time to fight the legitimacy of the stop is later in court. What’s not OK is just stopping a car on a hunch, because of racial profiling or for no reason at all.

    I don’t know if the FAA has similar protocols. It might make an interesting court case to fight a charge that stemmed from a “search” or “seizure” without probable cause for an aircraft owner.

    edited to add: composed while Rushie was posting hers. It’s a much more comprehensive explanation.
     
    Huckster79 likes this.
  13. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2016
    Messages:
    2,240
    Location:
    Tombstone

    Display name:
    Doc Holliday
    Federal law.

    49 U.S.C. § 44709

    (a) Reinspection and reexamination. --The Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration may reinspect at any time a civil aircraft, aircraft engine, propeller, appliance, design organization, production certificate holder, air navigation facility, or air agency, or reexamine an airman holding a certificate issued under section 44703 of this title.
     
    Bell206 likes this.
  14. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    May 25, 2006
    Messages:
    12,994
    Location:
    Chapel Hill NC

    Display name:
    Mark
    Yes, but that doesn't answer the question being asked. Statutory authority does not make an unconstitutional governmental activity legal.

    @Rushie gave the basic answer. Simplistic but essentially correct. The standards for administrative searches are different than the standards for criminal searches. Generally speaking criminal searches (with or without a warrant) require probable cause to believe a crime has been committed and the search will discover evidence of it. Administrative searches, on the other hand, can be upheld based on reasonable standards for inspection of regulated activity.

    As usual, the devil is in the details.

    (Trivia note: at one time the SCOTUS said the 4th Amendment only applied to criminal searches and not at all to administrative ones)
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2021
    Huckster79, Rushie and tawood like this.
  15. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2013
    Messages:
    10,485
    Location:
    Lenoir City, TN/Mineral Bluff, GA

    Display name:
    Fast Eddie B
    That’s the justification. But just being enshrined in Federal Law doesn’t mean that law might not be challenged as unconstitutional.

    edited to add: seems like Fast Eddie isn’t quite fast enough this morning!
     
    Brad Z and tawood like this.
  16. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2007
    Messages:
    20,884
    Location:
    Catawba, NC

    Display name:
    FlyingRon
    There's a difference. A traffic STOP involves stopping someone that is moving. What is permitted is coming up to someone who is already stopped for some reason and making inquiries. This is called a consensual stop under the law and permitted.
     
    ateamer likes this.
  17. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2016
    Messages:
    2,240
    Location:
    Tombstone

    Display name:
    Doc Holliday
    How is it unconstitutional?

    This law was written by congress, approved by the senate and signed into law by the President. As specified in the US constitution.

    Has anyone tried to get into the courts and have the USSC decide the constitutionality of this law?
     
  18. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot Final Approach PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2010
    Messages:
    5,490
    Location:
    North Carolina once again.

    Display name:
    Tarheelpilot
    Security and safety often come at a high price constitutionally. The FAA regulations ensure the safety of people riding in airplanes. Not our rights. It is the normal process of government to seek control and take away rights whenever Possible.
     
  19. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2013
    Messages:
    10,485
    Location:
    Lenoir City, TN/Mineral Bluff, GA

    Display name:
    Fast Eddie B
    I didn’t say it was.

    Many such laws have later been ruled unconstitutional by the courts, up to and including the Supreme Court.

    I don’t know. If not, it might be an interesting test case.
     
  20. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2016
    Messages:
    2,240
    Location:
    Tombstone

    Display name:
    Doc Holliday
    That's a typical lawyer deflection.

    The OP asked:

    The FBI doesn't do automobile safety inspections AFAIK, and I can't readily point to any federal laws or regulations dealing with automobile and driver safety, as that is handled at the state level.

    However, 49USC 44709 is a federal law, one that was passed by congress and signed into law by a president, all IAW the constitution. I'm not aware of any USSC rulings declaring 49USC 44709 as unconstitutional.

    So can you point to the cases that have challenged 49 USC 44709 and the rulings that this law is indeed unconstitutional?
     
  21. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2016
    Messages:
    2,240
    Location:
    Tombstone

    Display name:
    Doc Holliday
    Until 49USC 44709 is challenged in court, it is an enforceable law, wouldn't you agree?


    Here's your chance. All you need is a lawyer and a court filing. Best of luck. ;)
     
  22. Salty

    Salty Final Approach

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2016
    Messages:
    8,883
    Location:
    FL

    Display name:
    Salty
    Doc, what good is the constitution, if laws can be passed that violate it, or even worse, administrative rules can be created to bypass it? That's the whole point of the constitution.

    I'm not arguing that there's a problem with ramp checks. I'm only saying that an administrative rule NEVER trumps the constituion.
     
    Daleandee likes this.
  23. Salty

    Salty Final Approach

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2016
    Messages:
    8,883
    Location:
    FL

    Display name:
    Salty
    Ah, now I see. We're back to the "there's no harm until someone proves there is harm" theory. That makes me ill. That's like cheering a rule that allows slavery as long as nobody has challenged it in court yet. Until then, it's ok! Yay!
     
  24. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2016
    Messages:
    2,240
    Location:
    Tombstone

    Display name:
    Doc Holliday
    49 USC is not administrative, it is federal law.
     
  25. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2013
    Messages:
    10,485
    Location:
    Lenoir City, TN/Mineral Bluff, GA

    Display name:
    Fast Eddie B
  26. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2016
    Messages:
    2,240
    Location:
    Tombstone

    Display name:
    Doc Holliday
    Sorry you feel bad.


    OK, we're getting somewhere! So has 49USC 44709 been challenged? Or do we as citizens get to pick and choose which laws we will follow?
     
  27. Salty

    Salty Final Approach

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2016
    Messages:
    8,883
    Location:
    FL

    Display name:
    Salty
    I'm sorry you don't feel bad about unjust rules that violate the constitution.
     
  28. luvflyin

    luvflyin Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    Messages:
    11,139
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA

    Display name:
    Luvflyin
    What part of the Constitution are you talking about? Quote it.
     
    Doc Holliday likes this.
  29. Salty

    Salty Final Approach

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2016
    Messages:
    8,883
    Location:
    FL

    Display name:
    Salty
    Your question doesn't make sense to me in context.
     
  30. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2007
    Messages:
    11,012
    Location:
    Maryland

    Display name:
    Check_my_Six
    so....what are all these stops going to fix? It ain't gonna help the accident rate.

    Of course we all know it's the paper that makes us safer.....right Doc? Lol ;)
     
  31. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2016
    Messages:
    2,240
    Location:
    Tombstone

    Display name:
    Doc Holliday
    Please show me the court case where 49USC 44709 was challenged and struck down as unconstitutional. I'll wait.
     
  32. Salty

    Salty Final Approach

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2016
    Messages:
    8,883
    Location:
    FL

    Display name:
    Salty
    Yes, a person has not been murdered until the court determines it. Yet they are still dead and the court ain't bringing them back.
     
  33. Salty

    Salty Final Approach

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2016
    Messages:
    8,883
    Location:
    FL

    Display name:
    Salty
    Unsubscribing. There's no point in arguing with a statist that has proven to be impervious to any rational argument, and I don't even have a problem with ramp checks in the first place.
     
    hindsight2020 and Tarheelpilot like this.
  34. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2016
    Messages:
    2,240
    Location:
    Tombstone

    Display name:
    Doc Holliday
    Ramp checks are a very tiny part of surveillance of GA. In reality, air carriers get more ramp inspections annually.
     
  35. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2016
    Messages:
    2,240
    Location:
    Tombstone

    Display name:
    Doc Holliday
    Using an inane point to attempt to justify your position on a subject you know little about? o_O
     
  36. tawood

    tawood En-Route

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2015
    Messages:
    2,558
    Location:
    SE Michigan

    Display name:
    Tim
    "Because it hasn't been challenged, it must be ok" is ridiculous. Nor does the law doesn't explain what the OP is asking.
     
  37. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2016
    Messages:
    2,240
    Location:
    Tombstone

    Display name:
    Doc Holliday
    So you ignore laws you disagree?

    Back to the OP, he asked why he could be ramp checked by the FAA. I answered citing the law that permits it.

    I'm trying to answer the OP's question based on facts and supplied a reference.
     
  38. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2013
    Messages:
    10,485
    Location:
    Lenoir City, TN/Mineral Bluff, GA

    Display name:
    Fast Eddie B
    Ditto.
     
  39. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2007
    Messages:
    11,012
    Location:
    Maryland

    Display name:
    Check_my_Six
    yup....that's why the 121's &135's have a perfect accident rate. o_O
     
  40. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2016
    Messages:
    2,240
    Location:
    Tombstone

    Display name:
    Doc Holliday
    You're not making any sense.........oh wait, that's typical. :rolleyes:
     
    Checkout_my_Six likes this.