In the course of a year, Georgia law enforcement may perform approximately 45 road checks. This involves setting up a roadblock, performing assessments to identify potential drunk drivers and, if found, issue them citations or make arrests.
People in Georgia have questions about the legality of these road checks. They have concerns that sobriety checkpoints may represent an unreasonable search and seizure, thus violating the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. Nevertheless, while the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that traffic stops for no reason represent unreasonable searches and seizures, it affirms that law enforcement can set up checkpoints in the interest of DUI enforcement and other specific legal purposes. However, the roadblock has to meet certain requirements.
The site for the checkpoint must be in an area that does not usually experience a lot of traffic because it is necessary to stop each car that approaches. The roadblock must be visible to motorists traveling in both directions. Before a road check goes into place, a supervisor must approve it. This involves filling out a form detailing the purpose of the checkpoint and what authorities are looking for specifically.
Because it can be a significant undertaking, sobriety checkpoints may involve multiple law enforcement agencies working in conjunction with one another. The amount of personnel required at each checkpoint depends on the time of day that the road check takes place. At night, there must be four officers at each checkpoint, but during the day, there need be only two.
Authorities are looking for specific types of violations when conducting road checks. They must specify this when requesting permission to set up the roadblock. Examples of violations that they may look out for include the following:
- Driver license validity
- Seatbelt usage
- Equipment violations
Needless to say, law enforcement is also looking for signs that impairment may be present during a road check. Violations could result in citations or arrests, depending on the severity.