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TOPIC: Fingerprinting During Traffic Stops...Seriously
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Fingerprinting During Traffic Stops...Seriously 8 Years, 8 Months ago Karma: 0  
This is a HOT topic in legal circles right now. What if police officers can fingerprint us during a traffic stop? Current legislation may allow them to do just that. Read below.

Motorists stopped for traffic violations in Tennessee could be fingerprinted if state lawmakers approve a bill pending in the legislature.

Currently, when drivers are cited during traffic stops, police officers ask for the driver's signature on the ticket, but the proposed bill would allow police departments to eliminate signatures and collect fingerprints.

Supporters say collecting fingerprints would save money and help police determine whether the driver is wanted for a criminal offense, but opponents worry that it allows the government to tread on individual privacy rights. If so, this would infringe on your Constitutional rights.

Some fear if they take your fingerprint, then the police have access to your history. This could influence their decision in giving you a warning or even asking you to step out of the car.

State Sen. Joe Haynes and State Rep. Mike Stewart co-sponsored the bill, which gives police departments the choice of collecting a signature or a fingerprint, or collecting a signature and a fingerprint. The bill has been approved by the state House of Representatives, and senators will vote on the measure soon.

The bill, if passed, will take effect on July 1. At that time, any police department within the state could require fingerprinting as a means of identification. This obviously could be of some benefit in getting a true identity in certain situations, but the general public would be much more open to scrutiny and invasion.

"As long as the police department is ensuring that it will not create a database using the fingerprints collected on traffic citations and that those fingerprints will be used only to identify the person being stopped and for no other purposes," Weinberg said, "then the police department appears to be using the technology appropriately."

But Rep. Stacey Campfield, a Knoxville Republican, is openly skeptical and takes issue with the legislation. "If someone said this 15 to 20 years ago, people would be rioting about it. Now it just seems like a lot of people are giving up and giving away their freedoms," Campfield said. "It's scary. I really think that these fingerprints will be used to create a database eventually, if not right away. If you don't think it is, then you're just kidding yourself."

If the bill passes, Tennessee would join other states and cities that have adopted fingerprinting for traffic citations.

The police department in Green Bay, Wis., has been fingerprinting traffic offenders for two years, said Lt. Mark Hellman. Some citizens were concerned at first, he said.

"I think they saw that it wasn't that big of deal, and that the ones who were most worried about it were likely the ones who were doing something wrong," Hellmann said. "What they didn't understand was that a routine traffic stop on the street is an arrest, technically, even if you aren't taken into physical custody, and during an arrest, you are fingerprinted."

Police in Phoenix have been collecting fingerprints since 1995, using them to prevent identity theft and to identify immigrants who are in the country illegally.

The law office of Andrew Farmer is here to defend your rights. Call our office at (865) 428-6737 for a free consultation. We hope that you enjoyed learning more about this potential law.
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