Even the most seasoned motorists may never encounter a police sobriety roadblock or checkpoint during their entire driving history. Nonetheless, you should be armed with information regarding their validity and how to best approach them if you happen to drive towards one.

What is a Roadblock?

            In addition to the above factors,those arrested should urge their attorneys to be aware of local requirements regarding roadblocks, and subpoena all relevant records; although the road block may satisfy federal and state guidelines, it may fail the local arresting agency’s own policies.

            In determining the validity of a police roadblock, our courts analyze the following factors[1]:

  1. The roadblock was implemented pursuant to a checkpoint program that has, when viewed at the programmatic level, an appropriate primary purpose other than general crime control;
  2. The decision to implement the specific roadblock in question was made by a supervisor in advance, and not by an officer in the field;
  3. All vehicles that passed through the roadblock were stopped, rather than random vehicle stops;
  4. The delay to motorists was minimal;
  5. The roadblock was well-identified as a possible police checkpoint;
  6. The screening officers staffing the roadblock possessed sufficient training and experience to qualify them to make an initial determination as to which motorists should be subjected to field sobriety testing; and
  7. Under the totality of the circumstances, the stop of the defendant was reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.

What Should I Do?

            Now that we have seen what constitutes a valid police sobriety roadblock in theory, it is time to put the roadblock scenario into practice. If I see a roadblock coming what do I do? Am I allowed to evade it? The answer is . . . it depends. Drivers who violate a traffic law in order to avoid a police roadblock may be pulled over,arrested for said violation, and may be subject to further investigation by the police. However, drivers are entitled to take legal actions to avoid a roadblock, and police may not stop a driver from doing so, as long as the driver does not commit any traffic violations or other offenses while doing so.

An Example of a Roadblock

            For example, you are driving down a one lane road and you see a valid police roadblock ahead. However, the entrance to your apartment building happens to be 200 feet before the roadblock commences. You execute a legal turn into your apartment complex. A police officer at the roadblock sees you turn into the complex, follows your vehicle,and stops your vehicle. The officer’s hunch that you were avoiding the roadblock because you were intoxicated is, by itself, an insufficient basis to stop your vehicle.[2] As a result, most roadblocks are conducted on remote single lane roads so that an individual would necessarily have to break a traffic law in order to avoid them.

Call Us Today

             If you have been arrested for driving under the influence, contact the law firm of W. Scott Smith at 404.581.0999 today for a free case evaluation. You’ll find a local Atlanta DUI attorney ready to aggressively fight on your behalf. You can also find out more detailed information about Atlanta laws here.

by Casey Cleaver

[1] Brown v. State, 293 Ga. 787 (2013); Williams v. State, 293 Ga. 883 (2013); Baker v. State, 252 Ga. App. 695 (2001);
LaFontaine v. State, 269 Ga. 251
(1998); Indianapolis v. Edmond, 531
U.S. 32 (2000).

[2] Jorgensen v. State, 207 Ga. App. 545