Roadblocks, also known as checkpoints, are one of the tools Georgia police officers use to determine whether drivers are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Under the Fourth Amendment, an officer must have a reasonable articulable suspicion of criminal wrongdoing to stop your vehicle. Where the officer did not have a reasonable articulable suspicion of criminal wrongdoing, all evidence obtained in connection with that stop must be suppressed.
Roadblocks are an exception to this general rule. Unlike any other traffic stop, when police set up a roadblock, the question is whether it was implemented in a reasonable manner under the Fourth Amendment. “Reasonableness” is determined by the totality of the circumstances in roadblock cases.
A valid, legal roadblock meets ALL of the following requirements:
- The roadblock was implemented with the primary purpose other than the general interest in crime control;
- the decision to implement the roadblock was made by supervisory personnel rather than the officers in the field;
- all vehicles are stopped as opposed to random vehicle stops;
- the delay to motorists is minimal;
- the roadblock operation is well identified as a police checkpoint; and
- the screening officer's training and experience is sufficient to qualify him to make an initial determination as to which motorists should be given field tests for intoxication.
Law enforcement must alert the public when they are setting up a roadblock. They are required to announce the date, time, and location of any roadblock. The decision to implement the roadblock cannot be made by officers in the field. It must be made at the “programmatic level,” and by supervisors.
While you do have a right to drive away from a roadblock, this may be a red flag to police officers. An officer may assume that you are trying to avoid the checkpoint because you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
When an officer stops you at a checkpoint, he or she is looking for signs of impairment. These signs include, but are not limited to:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Slurred speech
- Open containers of alcoholic beverage or drug paraphernalia in your car
- Fumbling fingers
- Forgetting to produce either a license or registration upon the officer's request
- Unable to retrieve requested documents
- Failure to see a license or registration
- Dirty clothing
- Bruises or scratches
If you are stopped at a roadblock, you will most likely be asked to present your license and vehicle registration. It would be best to have these items ready for the officer before he or she approaches your vehicle. As noted above, officers are looking for signs of impairment. Thus, you don't want an officer to misinterpret you dropping your license or fumbling with your documents as an indication that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
With the 4th of July holiday coming up this week, police departments across the country will be more vigilant in keeping drunk drivers off the road. Be careful, drive safely, and don't drink and drive.
If charged, know your rights. If you have been stopped at a DUI roadblock, your Atlanta DUI Attorney will assess the reasonableness of the roadblock. Always remember that a roadside checkpoint is an exception to the general rule that the police cannot detain people without reasonable articulable suspicion. As a result, you should never assume the police implemented the roadblock in an appropriate manner. Call now. Our Atlanta DUI Attorneys will investigate your case and look for all potential defenses.