On certain weekends and some weeknights, on certain roads, the Georgia State Police may set up sobriety checkpoints. A sobriety checkpoint is a tool that Georgia police use to evaluate random drivers for signs of drug and alcohol impairment. A sobriety checkpoint may be on a road or a freeway. Law enforcers decide ahead of time what process to use when stopping vehicles – whether it’s every third car stopped or every tenth, for example. If you are stopped at a sobriety checkpoint, the officer may ask for your license and registration. They are primarily looking for signs of impairment. If they suspect that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may perform a chemical test and employ field sobriety tests.
In 1990, the United States Supreme Court declared that sobriety checkpoints did not violate citizen’s Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure. The court decided that the benefit of these checkpoints outweighs the minor intrusion on individual’s rights. Each state has adopted their own laws regarding sobriety checkpoints as well. Currently, Georgia allows the use of sobriety roadblocks.
The most common signs of impairment which are looked for during a Georgia sobriety checkpoint are the odor of alcohol, blood shot eyes, the presence of containers or drug paraphernalia, slurred speech, fumbling with your license or documents and other physical signs of intoxication.
There are certain guidelines that Georgia law enforcement must follow to ensure that checkpoints do not qualify as unreasonable search and seizure. Each state uses its own specific guidelines but the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration provides the following rules…
- They must be part of an ongoing program to deter drunk driving.
- There must be established procedures for how to properly operate a Georgia sobriety or DUI (driving under the influence) checkpoint. They must be performed by qualified individuals.
- The selection of checkpoints must be done in the interest of public safety and chosen for a specific objective.
- Drivers should be warned of an upcoming checkpoint.
- The logistics of chemical testing must allow expeditious transport of suspects to a chemical test site.
- Any change in the planning of a checkpoint must be well documented.
- The public should have ample warning of sobriety checkpoints so they can avoid them altogether and feedback should be requested from stopped citizens to help determine if the roadblock’s effectiveness.
If you have been stopped at a Georgia sobriety checkpoint and feel that your rights were not upheld or that you were unlawfully searched, you may wish to contact a qualified and experienced Georgia DUI attorney. If you were arrested for a DUI, the best results are achieved when you get a Georgia bail bondsman as soon as you can!