How and why a “Roadblock” can ruin your New Years with a DUI.
By Michael D. Barber, Georgia Lawyer specializing in DUI, Drug Charges & Criminal Defense
As we are ending 2019 and the holiday season, there is one more major holiday left where police departments in the State of Georgia will be doubling their efforts looking for DUI’s. This New Years Eve you may find yourself looking at blue lights as you approach an area on the roadway. Commonly referred to as a Roadblock, or Safety Check Point, it is one of the tools in the police arsenal that officers love to use to look for individuals who are driving under the influence.
Although this tool is used for DUI frequently it is commonly disguised as another type of investigation because the underlying purpose of a Safety Check Point is defined Georgia Department of Safety as “The Georgia Department of Public Safety shall conduct roadblocks to protect the citizens of the State of Georgia and to monitor and check driver’s licenses, driver condition, vehicle registrations, vehicle equipment and other requirements of the Georgia motor vehicle and traffic code and to locate a suspected criminal likely to be in the area. Roadblocks shall be conducted in a manner that safely maximizes available personnel, promotes highway safety and provides the greatest public benefit. Roadblocks shall not be established for the general purpose of crime control or deterrence.”
One of the key parts of a road block reads that it “Shall not be established for the general purpose of crime control or deterrence” This is very important, as it limits roadblocks only for a specific purpose as defined above, and not just a “catch all” for any and all possible crimes or traffic violations.
During a Safety Check point an officer stops your vehicle to “investigate something the roadblock is looking for” and if they smell alcohol, or other indicators of possible impairment, they will initiate a DUI investigation. This investigation can be performed even without any unsafe driving or other traffic violations. These less safe driving clues are normally required to any DUI investigation.
In order for any Road Block to be valid, there are requirements laid out by the Supreme Court of Georgia, and enforced by the Georgia Department of Public Safety as a ground rule, as to what is required to set up a legal roadblock.
- It cannot be spontaneous- there must be a plan in place prior to the initiation of a roadblock by a supervising officer with a place and time established.
- There must be a legitimate purpose for the roadblock as described above.
- The roadblock must be conducted as established by “the plan.”
- Each vehicle must be stopped, regardless of any non-obvious violations.
If the above criteria for a legal roadblock is not met OR is questionable there are issues that will follow from the roadblock which will trickle down to the DUI you would have received. These issues are brought up in Motions filed with the court.
Georgia State Patrol stated that certain holidays, including New Years Eve, they see a increase in arrests for DUI. New Years Eve is synonymous with alcohol, vibrant parties and pure excitement celebrating the new years beginning. This day can involve quite a bit of drinking and the parties that go along with it are usually occasions that everyone remembers. Some people however end up remembering more than just a good party. With everything that goes on for New Years Eve parties, some people either lose track or don’t keep count of their alcohol intake. With police being aggressive, or more aggressive, for DUI arrests, it means that more people are finding themselves the subject of a late night rendezvous with the police. As a result of the Governor’s office of Highway Safety teaming up with various other police organizations, including the HEAT and TEAM division of local counties, the cops are cracking down on impaired driving. These efforts by the police and Georgia State Patrol mean that you MUST be cautious in your decisions if you are planning on drinking anything and driving.
If you have been accused by the police of driving under the influence then you need help from a trained DUI attorney. Should YOU find that you either don’t want to face the court alone or simply feel that you need help from an attorney then give our office a call regarding your citations. There are facts to every case where defenses can be raised for anyone charged with driving under the influence. Each situation is different from the other and requires a evaluation of all the information in order to properly mount a defense and a effective negotiation with the prosecutor’s office. Remember that every DUI case is different because not two sets of facts are the same. Application of the above case law to your situation would take examination of the facts surrounding your case and applying this case law properly to create a properly mounted defense for YOUR arrest.
Our office has 24 hour response lines and can answer your questions and help you. Give our team of DUI defense lawyers a call at 404-445-8494. We can help you.