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Are DUI checkpoints legal law enforcement tools in Georgia?

On Behalf of | Jan 2, 2024 | DUI |

Most traffic enforcement effort occur on a highly individual basis. Police officers out on traffic patrol pull people over for burned-out lights or erratic conduct in traffic. They can also issue citations when responding to a recent collision if they determine that one driver violated traffic laws.

Sometimes, people’s actions during traffic stops or after collisions lead to their arrest and prosecution for driving under the influence (DUI) charges in Pennsylvania. It is obviously much more efficient for police officers to screen as many people as possible at once for signs of impairment rather than to screen people individually.

A DUI checkpoint or sobriety roadblock occurs when police departments stop every vehicle traveling down a certain road. Are DUI checkpoints a legal law enforcement tool in Georgia?

The Supreme Court has affirmed their legality

DUI checkpoints have been a source of legal controversy for decades. Many people claim that a checkpoint infringes on their constitutional rights by exposing them to an unreasonable search and unnecessarily aggressive police activity.

Some people have even tried to build a defense around that claim. Eventually, a case out of Michigan was heard by the federal Supreme Court. The justices ruled that while a DUI roadblock does infringe on the freedoms of the individuals stopped, the degree of inconvenience in cursory screening is minimal.

Therefore, DUI checkpoints are not a violation of someone’s civil rights and are theoretically legal in Georgia so long as police officers follow the right procedures. They can only stop vehicles for a few moments to briefly interact with each driver. If there are warning signs of impairment during that screening, officers can have people stop for enhanced screening, including field sobriety tests. They could arrest dozens of people in one night by conducting a checkpoint.

Someone accused of a DUI after a checkpoint arrest cannot defend themselves by alleging that all checkpoints are illegal. However, their defense attorney might be able to find proof that there were protocol violations at the DUI checkpoint or during their arrest. There may be other possible defense strategies available, including challenging the accuracy of breath test results. Ultimately, planning a thorough defense strategy can help people avoid the worst consequences possible after a DUI arrest in Georgia.