Challenging Sobriety Checkpoints In Georgia
Sobriety checkpoints are permitted in 38 states, including Georgia. However, that doesn’t mean they are always constitutionally or legally executed. In fact, it is understood that sobriety checkpoints represent a de facto fourth amendment violation, as they necessarily require a seizure of a person and their property without cause. However, the supreme court has upheld the constitutionality of such stops due to the threat that drunk drivers pose to public safety (albeit, with a number of blistering dissents). That doesn’t mean though that such stops are permitted without limitation. They must be limited in scope and executed in a non-discriminatory manner in order for any arrests made to be valid. If you have been arrested for DUI at a sobriety checkpoint in Georgia, there may be a number of grounds available on which to challenge it. The points made below are not intended to be comprehensive, but rather, to provide a starting point for anyone facing a DUI charge. If you would like personalized information and advice based on your unique case, contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Attorneys to schedule a free consultation.
Grounds for Challenging a Sobriety Checkpoint Arrest
- The checkpoint wasn’t properly authorized. Checkpoints cannot be erected at random. They must be authorized by a supervisor. Checkpoints created by field officers without receiving an order from a superior supervisor will not be considered legitimate, and any charges resulting from them can likely be dismissed.
- Checkpoints must be for a specific purpose. In order to be valid and constitutional, checkpoints must be for a specific and limited purpose. If a checkpoint is used for general law enforcement without a specific aim, such as driving under the influence, the checkpoint will be too broad to be considered constitutional.
- Checkpoints must be properly marked. Checkpoints must be properly marked, cannot disguise their purpose, and officers must be in uniform.
- Police may not unreasonably delay traffic. A brief stop may be permitted but unreasonably detaining people will likely be found to exceed the bounds of the fourth amendment exception that permits sobriety checkpoints. Checkpoints must exist for a specific and limited purpose, they are not an excuse to look for any and all possible violations of law. The longer the delay, the higher the degree of scrutiny with which the checkpoint will be viewed by courts.
- Every car must be stopped. Random stops are not permitted at sobriety checkpoints. In order to avoid discriminatory traffic stops and profiling drivers, all drivers at a checkpoint must be stopped. If you were stopped and other drivers were not, this is a ground on which you can challenge your charges.
- Officers must be adequately trained. If you were charged with DUI at a sobriety checkpoint, it’s important to look into whether the officer who charged you had the requisite knowledge and training to accurately determine that you were driving under the influence.
Contact a Georgia DUI Lawyer
If you’ve been charged with DUI in Atlanta, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Johns Creek, Sandy Springs, or any other area in Georgia, it is critical that you obtain legal counsel as soon as possible. The DeKalb County DUI lawyers at Hawkins Spizman are prepared to fight for your rights and ensure that you are not left to shoulder the burden of an unconstitutional stop. Call today to schedule your free consultation.