As the holiday weekend nears, law enforcement is sure to be out in full force. One means of apprehending drivers who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol is to implement a roadblock. A roadblock, sometimes called a "checkpoint," is a way for police officers to temporarily detain drivers while they determine whether they are impaired or not.
As a Georgia DUI Lawyer, I know that while properly performed roadblocks are regarded as constitutional, they must also be administered reasonably and are subject to scrutiny under the Fourth Amendment. "The Fourth Amendment imposes limits on search-and-seizure powers in order to prevent arbitrary and oppressive interference by enforcement officials with the privacy and personal security of individuals." United States v. Martinez-Fuerte, 428 U.S. 543, 544 (96 SCt 3074, 49 LE2d 1116) (1976). In today's post, I'm going to discuss the law regarding DUI roadblocks in Georgia.
Roadblocks frequently lead to numerous DUIs in Georgia. This is partly because roadblocks require less reasonable suspicion to be considered valid. Unlike a "normal" DUI, an officer directing a roadblock does not need to witness a driver doing anything suspicious to have a reason to pull them over. In fact, when a driver is charged with a DUI during a roadblock, there is generally little to no evidence of impaired driving. These cases heavily rely on the officer's observations of the driver, such as if the driver has slurred speech, if the officer smells alcohol, etc.
Additionally, certain precautions and standards must be satisfied in order to guarantee that the roadblock is conducted lawfully and constitutionally. Because of these strict requirements, no one stopped and charged with DUI at a roadblock should ever plead guilty without speaking to an attorney. A qualified attorney will be able to determine the validity of the roadblock involved. Specifically, the following must be done to make a valid arrest during a roadblock in Georgia:
- The roadblock must be set up for a legitimate purpose. For example, it can be a safety check, a seat belt check, or as the result of prior car accidents in the area. However, it cannot be for a general law enforcement purpose.
- A police supervisor must make the decision to implement the roadblock and conduct it in a legitimate way. Ordinary police officers cannot begin their shift and decide to enforce a roadblock on their own.
- Officers must stop every vehicle. They cannot select certain vehicles or focus on any particular person, sex, or race.
- The roadblock must be clearly marked and must inform drivers of the purpose of the roadblock and where it is located.
- The officers conducting the roadblock must have adequate training in DUI Detection.
- The roadblock must not be randomly placed and may not move locations.
- The roadblock must not create an unreasonable burden on drivers.
As a Georgia DUI Attorney, I know that police officers do not always conduct roadblocks in a constitutionally sound way. If you have been charged with DUI at a roadblock, you need to contact a qualified DUI defense attorney immediately. You have rights, and the Law Offices of Richard S. Lawson is here to help. Call us today.