A number of drivers in Fort Worth, Texas, last week were likely stunned when they were asked for samples of their breath, saliva and even blood by federal contractors at a police roadblock.
The invasive exercise was part of a government research study that seeks to calculate how many drivers get behind the wheel while drunk or on drugs. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is reportedly spending $7.9 million on the survey over three years and claims participation was “100 percent voluntary” and anonymous.
However, at least one driver told NBC DFW it didn’t feel voluntary.
Kim Cope said it “doesn’t seem right that you can be forced off the road when you’re not doing anything wrong.”
She claims she tried to gesture to one of the officials that she wanted to be on her way, but they forced her into a parking spot. Cope was shocked when they started asking for cheek swabs and blood samples.
“They were asking for cheek swabs, they would give $10 for that. Also, if you let them take your blood, they would pay you $50 for that,” she explained.
Cope ended up just doing the breathalyzer test just to be done faster. They did not offer any money for the breath test, she said, adding that officials need to make sure this kind of thing never happens again.
“We are reviewing the actions of all police personnel involved to ensure that FWPD policies and procedures were followed. We apologize if any of our drivers and citizens were offended or inconvenienced by the NHTSA National Roadside Survey,” Ft. Worth Police spokesman Sgt. Kelly Peel said in response to inquiries.
The Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, a government contractor based in Calverton, Md., conducted the survey, according to NBC DFW. A spokeswoman refused to speak to the news outlet and referred all questions to NHTS.
Fort Worth attorney Frank Colosi argued the police roadblock was likely unconstitutional.
“You can’t just be pulled over randomly or for no reason,” he added.
Note: We discussed this story on today’s BlazeCast: