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What makes a Georgia roadblock legal?

| Feb 10, 2020 | DUI |

In many states, DUI checkpoints, or “roadblocks,” as Georgia law calls them, are unconstitutional. The theory behind this designation is that the police should not have the authority to stop drivers at random for the purpose of sniffing out crime. Though there is merit behind this reasoning, Georgia is one of many states that still allow DUI checkpoints. However, police departments must adhere to strict guidelines before setting up and conducting a roadblock, which the Georgia Department of Public Safety Policy Manual, statute 17.16 outlines. 

Per the manual, departments may conduct roadblocks for the purpose of protecting citizens. They may not, however, set up roadblocks for the sole purpose of deterrence or crime control. At roadblocks, officers may check and monitor driver condition, driver’s licenses, vehicle equipment, vehicle registrations and other state motor vehicle and operation requirements. 

Per the manual, field personnel may not make the decision to set up a roadblock on a whim. Rather, supervisory personnel must make the decision in advance of the checkpoint and specify details, such as the location and date of the roadblock. Moreover, supervisory personnel must develop specific and objective criteria for all aspects of the checkpoint. 

When the roadblock is open, officers must stop all vehicles rather than stopping random ones. If the roadblock causes an extensive traffic delay or hinders driver safety, the officers must shut the checkpoint down and resume only once the congestion has cleared. 

The existence of a roadblock must be obvious to approaching vehicles. The state requires that a minimum of two uniformed officers operate a checkpoint, though the amount of traffic in any given location may dictate the need for more. At night, however, the required minimum number of officers increases to four, two of which must be state troopers. Screening officers must have sufficient training and experience and understand which motorists require field sobriety assessments.