In the state of Georgia, it is legal for law enforcement to set up DUI checkpoints (also known as "mobile checkpoints" or "roadblocks") to randomly detain drivers without suspicion of intoxicated driving. During these temporary traffic stops, drivers are briefly interviewed by an officer. Any that seem to exhibit suspicious behavior may be subjected to sobriety tests to determine whether the driver is intoxicated. According to law enforcement, these tests help police to weed out inebriated drivers and ensure the safety of everyone on the road.
You may be wondering about probable cause. Doesn't this constitute "unreasonable search," especially since the location and time of the checkpoints is ever-changing and operates under the element of surprise? In other kinds of traffic stops, police officers must have probable cause in order to pull you over, but this is not necessary for DUI stops.
In 1990, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz that these types of random stops were permitted under the Constitution's Fourth Amendment, which sets the standard for "reasonable search and seizure." The Court decided that a DUI stop, therefore, does not violate the rights of the driver, and the temporary inconvenience it may cause drivers was considered negligible and justified by the greater need for safety on roadways all across the country.
While Michigan may have set the precedent in this court case, there are still 12 states that do not allow checkpoints because they would be in conflict with their individual state laws. Many feel that this type of random search is a form of entrapment designed to extract revenue through fines from unsuspecting drivers. Whatever the case, if checkpoints are legal in your state, you will need to exercise great caution on the road, because you never know when you might be might meet with the dreaded question, "Have you been drinking tonight?"
If you have found yourself in a sticky situation with an officer at a DUI checkpoint, don't give up hope! With the help of an experienced attorney, you may be able to avoid some or all of your DUI charges.
Contact the Atlanta DUI defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Howard J. Weintraub, P.C. as soon as possible to schedule your consultation.