DUI Checkpoints in Georgia

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 DUI Checkpoints in Georgia have been the catalyst for criminal charges for many drivers. Having the assistance of Philip Kim Law, P.C. can help. Call us now!

 

Author: Philip Kim, Founder, Philip Kim Law, P.C.

Defense lawyer Philip Kim has committed his career to standing up for the accused, and protecting the rights and reputations of his valued clients. If you face criminal charges in Georgia, we can provide you with the skilled, effective defense representation you need.

Published on December 30, 2022.

 

What Is a DUI Checkpoint?

A DUI checkpoint is a traffic stop that allows police officers to briefly stop vehicles and check drivers for impairment. Usually, police officers set up a road barricade, and drivers are checked for signs of intoxication, such as the odor of alcohol or bloodshot eyes.

If law enforcement officers at a DUI checkpoint suspect certain drivers are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they may ask them to perform field sobriety tests. In addition, if they have reasonable suspicion that drivers are impaired, they may arrest them and transport them to the hospital or law enforcement station. There, impaired drivers can have a blood, breath, or urine alcohol test.

Does Georgia Have DUI Checkpoints?

Thirty-eight states, including Georgia, allow police officers to set up DUI checkpoints and pull over drivers to check for DUI without warrants or reasonable suspicion.

However, since DUI checkpoints give police so much power, they have to follow specific legal requirements.

Although the legality of DUI checkpoints is often questioned, the DUI charges shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you were arrested after a DUI checkpoint, contacting a skilled DUI lawyer can be beneficial to your case.

Are DUI Checkpoints Legal in Georgia?

Although they may appear illegal to some, Georgia DUI checkpoints are completely legal, provided they follow strict requirements and guidelines.

The constitutionality of DUI checkpoints was questioned. It was considered that these checkpoints violate an individual’s constitutional rights (The Fourth Amendment) that protect citizens from unreasonable search and seizure.

However, in 1990, the United States Supreme Court, during the case of Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz, ruled that DUI checkpoints were considered justified and lawful. Furthermore, the Court concluded that the cons of violating the Fourth Amendment are outweighed by the pros of preventing accidents due to drunk driving.

The State of Georgia and its Constitution went even further and provided even greater protection than the US Constitution. The Georgia Supreme Court has set certain requirements and laid down statutes that have to be followed for a DUI checkpoint to be considered legal.

How Effective Are DUI Checkpoints?

According to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), many studies have found that sobriety checkpoints can be considered effective in reducing crashes involving alcohol as well as crash fatalities. For example, a 2013–2017 data analysis from the City of Los Angeles showed that alcohol-related accidents were reduced for about a week following roadside sobriety checkpoints.

However, it was noted that publicity is a highly significant factor. States with less publicity showed no reduction in fatalities compared to those with publicized enforcement demonstration programs. Also, it was stated that despite sobriety checkpoint effectiveness, only several states conduct them regularly due to the lack of funding.

Can Someone Refuse to Go Through a DUI Checkpoint?

Generally yes. However, making sudden illegal maneuvers on the road can give law enforcement officers a reason to chase down that driver and possibly arrest them. Also, it might be illegal to make a U-turn at that location.

In order to avoid DUI checkpoints, drivers may be better off using their turn signals and moving away slowly. It is also a wise idea to use a phone camera to capture everything that happens and any possible conversation with a police officer in case you are later accused of trying to avoid a DUI roadblock.

What Happens at DUI Checkpoints in Georgia?

Knowing what to expect at a DUI or sobriety checkpoint can be useful. A police officer may ask for your documentation, such as a driver’s license, registration, or insurance. They may ask whether you had something to drink or where you are heading.

Law enforcement officers may ask drivers to conduct breath tests or field sobriety tests. It may be in their best interest to comply, assuming they are driving sober. Refusing may result in detainment and eventually DUI arrests.

But, in order for a Georgia DUI checkpoint to be legal, certain requirements must be met. For example, not any law enforcement officer can be stationed at a roadblock. These officers must be adequately trained in DUI detection, so they can quickly determine which drivers should be asked to do a sobriety test.

DUI checkpoint locations must be clearly marked so that drivers aren’t caught off guard, and officers must wear reflective clothing. For drivers to have a chance to avoid DUI checkpoints, the signage must be far enough from the checkpoint.

Traffic flow should be minimally disrupted, as well as the location and time of the DUI checkpoint must be approved by a police supervisor authorized to approve it.

Other requirements can include the following:

  • The purpose of a checkpoint has to be clear. It must be specified whether the checkpoint is to inspect driver’s licenses or look for impaired drivers.

  • Every vehicle has to be stopped. Random checks aren’t considered lawful.

  • A minimum of two officers must be stationed at a roadblock. An additional amount of personnel depends on the traffic around the DUI checkpoint to maintain a steady flow.

Do I Have to Answer Questions at a DUI Checkpoint in Georgia?

No, you don’t. If you want, you can remain silent. Nothing further than giving your name and address is necessary. Paragraph XVI of the Georgia Constitution allows you to remain silent and do nothing that may be self-incriminatory. 

When Are DUI Checkpoints Common in Georgia?

Many Americans like to celebrate their holidays with a drink or two. So, it’s not a surprise that holidays such as Thanksgiving, Labor Day, July 4, and even Christmas are likely times of the year when you can expect a DUI roadblock.

DUI checkpoints are usually set up around midnight. However, there are exceptions – when UGA plays an afternoon football game, the checkpoint may start earlier, around 9 PM.

States where DUI Checkpoints Are Illegal

Sobriety checkpoints are currently used in 38 states and the District of Columbia. However, 12 states don’t use DUI roadblocks to fight impaired driving.

These states include Alaska, Texas, and Idaho. The reasons vary from lacking statutory authority to conduct checkpoints (Iowa) to checkpoints being prohibited by statute (Wisconsin). In Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and Michigan, DUI checkpoints are illegal under the state constitution. 

 

Arrested at a DUI Checkpoint? An Attorney Can Help

 

If you have been arrested at a DUI checkpoint, you have to bear in mind that the arrest doesn’t equal a conviction. There are many stages in a DUI court process between an arrest and a conviction. Hiring an experienced attorney who knows the DUI process and how to challenge checkpoint cases can be helpful.

 For more questions about DUI checkpoints, contact Philip Kim Law, P.C., so we can discuss the particular events of your case.

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Philip Kim Law, P.C.
368 West Pike Street, Suite 203
Lawrenceville, GA 30046
(678) 203-6968
Fax: (678) 273-3501
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