Greater Constitutional protections are afforded to Georgia motorists who are pulled over at a DUI roadblock than if they were pulled over for a traffic violation, such as failure to maintain lane or speeding. This is because when a driver is pulled over for a traffic violation, the driver has allegedly done something wrong or illegal that has caused the police to investigate the driver. But at a roadblock, the police-driver encounter is a forced interaction not based on any action by the driver, so the Constitution limits the police intrusion on the driver.
A citizen still has many Constitutional protections during roadblocks in Georgia and the police must follow proper procedure.
First, the primary purpose of police checkpoints must be to ensure that the driver and the vehicle stopped at the roadblock are fit to continue operating on the roadways. This includes safety and equipment checks, driver’s license checks, and DUI investigations.
The secondary purpose can be for general criminal behavior, but the primary purpose must be for driver and vehicle safety and compliance with driving laws.
Road Block Requirements
Additionally, the Georgia DUI Checkpoint must be approved by a supervisor for the law enforcement agency performing the roadblock. For example, two police officers cannot on their own decide one afternoon to set up a roadblock.
Also, there must be Georgia DUI screeners present to handle any DUI investigations. Any driver suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs will be pulled over and the DUI screeners will investigate that driver further via Georgia DUI field sobriety tests. Officers at sobriety roadblocks cannot randomly stop cars. Either every car must be stopped, or a pre-determined number of cars must be stopped, for example, every third car that approaches the roadblock. Law enforcement at a roadblock can decide to not stop cars for awhile for reasons such as traffic backup, but once they begin to stop cars again, they cannot do so randomly.
The roadblock must be clearly marked and there are other specific procedures that must be followed by law enforcement at the roadblock.
Avoiding roadblocks can result in losing some of the Constitutional protections given to drivers who are at the roadblock. Primarily, if you take evasive action to avoid the roadblock and are pulled over, the primary purpose for pulling you over at that point does not have to be to ensure you and your vehicle are fit to continue driving. The reason is simple – by taking evasive measures to avoid the roadblock, you have provided law enforcement with reasonable articulable suspicion that you are engaged in criminal behavior.
Another popular question we receive is whether a Georgia driver who has consumed alcohol should submit to sobriety testing at a checkpoint. It is important to remember that unlike with a regular DUI or DWI stop where the officer has observed you committing a driving infraction, with a roadblock, you were stopped simply for being at the roadblock and not for doing something that would give rise to a reasonable articulable suspicion to pull you over.
If you are facing a charge that could result in a license suspension in North Georgia or Hall County, you should consider consulting a lawyer that is knowledgeable in the field. This helps to provide that best possible defenses and make the more well informed decisions regarding your rights and options when considering how best to maintain your driver’s license and avoid suspension.
About the attorney: Anne Bishop is a Georgia lawyer with A. Bishop Law in Gainesville, Georgia and handles various DUI / DWI, Marijuana Arrests and other Georgia Criminal Defense matters. The law office of A. Bishop Law can assist clients throughout Georgia including: Hall County (Gainesville, Oakwood, Flowery Branch), Jackson County (Jefferson, Braselton) White County (Helen, Cleveland), Lumpkin County (Dahlonega), Dawson County (Dawsonville), Habersham County (Demorest, Cornelia), and all of Northeast Georgia.
This article and/or video should not be considered nor relied upon as legal advice since it is only intended for general overview and informational purposes. Please consult with an attorney on your specific situation in order to determine an appropriate legal course of action.