Roadblocks in Georgia: The Basics

March 21st, 2010 Allen Trapp Posted in PC for arrest, The Stop No Comments »

     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.

Written by Allen Trapp who is board certified by the National College for DUI Defense and the author of Georgia DUI Survival Guide Visit Website
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Bloodshot Eyes: Under the Influence of Alcohol or Allergies

August 11th, 2006 Allen Trapp Posted in PC for arrest, Studies 3 Comments »

Besides the ubiquitous “odor of alcohol,” perhaps the most common observation an officer will recite as an indicator of being under the influence of alcohol will be “bloodshot eyes.” It is very rare that we encounter a DUI case when at least these two boxes (odor of alcohol and bloodshot eyes) on the police report are not marked. When an officer relies heavily on “bloodshot eyes” as the sole basis for continuing the investigation of the driver, the case should be vigorously challenged because even NHTSA has discounted these clues as prejudicial and irrelevant to determining intoxication. NHTSA released a report in 1997 that removes “bloodshot eyes” as an indicator of impairment. The materials provide an excellent resource for cross-examination of an arresting officer. Specifically, the report states:

Finally, some cues were eliminated because they might be indicators more of social class than of alcohol impairment. For example, officers informed us that a flushed or red face might be an indication of a high BAC in some people. However, the cue also is characteristic of agricultural, oil field, and other outside work. Similarly, bloodshot eyes, while associated with alcohol consumption, also is a trait of many shift workers and people who must work more than one job, as well as those afflicted by allergies. A disheveled appearance similarly is open to subjective interpretation. We attempted to limit the recommendation to clear and objective post-stop behaviors.

Jack Stuster, U.S. Department of Transportation, NHTSA,
Final Report, The Detection of DWI at BACs Below 0.10,
DOT HS-808-654 (Sept. 1997), p. E-10

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