Georgia law and the United States Constitution requires that police officers possess a certain level of suspicion in order to stop a driver. Police officers must have reasonable articulable suspicion that a driver is, has, or is about to break the law in order to pull them over. However, DUI checkpoints and roadblocks are an exception to this requirement, and police do not have to have any suspicion whatsoever to stop a car passing through a checkpoint.
If you have been arrested at a checkpoint, you may be wondering how to best defend your case. The good news is that the State must show that the roadblock was conducted in such a way that complies with Georgia law. In the case of Baker v. State, 252 Ga. App. 695 (2001), the Georgia Court of Appeals articulates the six prongs which must be shown to support a stop at a checkpoint. The Court in Baker held that a roadblock is valid when:
- The decision to implement the checkpoint in question was made by supervisory officers and not officers in the field;
- The supervisors had a legitimate purpose in conducting a checkpoint;
- All vehicles passing through the checkpoint are stopped, not just “random” vehicles;
- The delay to drivers is minimal;
- The checkpoint operation is well identified as a police checkpoint (think flashing lights, marked vehicles, and traffic cones);
- The screening officer’s training and experience are sufficient to qualify him to make an initial determination as to which motorists should be administered field sobriety tests.
This test is all-or-nothing. If the prosecutors cannot show each and every one of these elements, the stop and any subsequent observations, statements, or arrests may be suppressed.
If you have been arrested at a checkpoint, you may have a valid defense in your case. Call our office for a free consultation and find out what your best options are. 404-581-0999. Written by Attorney Katherine A. Edmonds.