Roadblocks in Georgia: The Basics
In order for a roadblock to comply with the Constitutional standards laid down by our Court of Appeals, it must be shown that all drivers were stopped at a specific location, that the delay to the motorists was minimal, the roadblock was well identified as a police checkpoint, and the screening officer had sufficient training and experience. Perhaps most importantly, it must be shown that the roadblock (sometimes called a license checkpoint or sobriety checkpoint) had what the courts call “a legitimate primary purpose at the programmatic level.” In other words, it must be approved by a supervisor for a purpose other than general law enforcement, and that supervisor must be cloaked with the authority to approve roadblocks.
Some roadblocks have been upheld even when a supervisor testifies that the primary purpose was enforcement of traffic laws and enumerates several purposes. On the other hand, when it can be shown that drug interdiction was a primary focus of the roadblock, it may be struck down as invalid. Sometimes a prosecutor will be unable to introduce live testimony from the supervisor or documents to prove the purpose of the roadblock, and the testimony of other officers on the scene is hearsay. Occasionally it can be shown through dispatch and testing records that some automobiles were not stopped due to a manpower shortage. And, from time to time the delay to motorists is anything but minimal. When a roadblock does not meet the criteria set forth by the Court of Appeals, all evidence obtained as a result of that roadblock should be suppressed, and the charges will consequently be dismissed.