What limits do the police have when establishing a DUI checkpoint in Georgia?
Criminal laws can be complicated, and many people charged with crimes do not fully understand their rights and options in their own criminal defense cases. One primary example involved checkpoint for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Georgia.
Are there limits to what the police can do when setting up a checkpoint? Can they single someone out by setting up a checkpoint? Do you have any rights when coming into a checkpoint?
It is important to understand the basics of the laws regulating DUI checkpoint in Georgia. It could be the difference between a serious criminal conviction and going free.
DUI checkpoint requirements
In Georgia, a legal DUI checkpoint must be:
- Authorized: For a checkpoint to be legal, it must have proper signed authorization from the supervising officer with authority to make this type of decision.
- Identifiable: Police cannot set up a “hidden” or “secret” checkpoint. It needs to be clearly labeled as a checkpoint.
- Intentional: A checkpoint needs to have a specific purpose. It cannot be set up to simply check cars for any legal violations. A checkpoint can be set up to check for licenses, for safety of vehicles, or for evidence of intoxicated driving. But there needs to be a specific purpose for the checkpoint.
- Comprehensive: A checkpoint must not be selective. At a checkpoint, the police cannot examine one driver but let others pass. All drivers must get the same basic initial examination. However, the police can ask any individual driver to pull over for further inspection, but only if the police find some probable cause of criminal activity like driving under the influence.
- Efficient: Police checkpoints need to be set up in such a way that keeps traffic delays to a minimum. Searches need to be brief and efficient, and there should be some type of supervisory officer on scene to make sure things are flowing smoothly.
It is encouraging to know that the police face significant limitations on what they can do regarding checkpoints. These are just the most important limitations the police need to account for when establishing and executing a checkpoint.
Finding police error to benefit your case
The main point of these limitations on checkpoints is that you can use them if you have been charged with DUI.
The legal principle involved is called illegal search and seizure. Basically, if the police violate your legal rights to obtain evidence, any evidence they obtain is inadmissible in court.
In the matter of DUI checkpoints, violations of checkpoint regulations could render the checkpoint illegal, and thus any evidence the police obtain at the checkpoint would be inadmissible, leaving the prosecutor without the evidence needed to convict.
A skilled criminal defense lawyer can look at the details of a checkpoint to determine if there were any violations of checkpoint regulations.
For example, if you were the only one who was searched at the checkpoint, or if the checkpoint was not clearly labeled, your attorney could use this in court as an example of illegal checkpoint procedures. Even if there were undue delays at the checkpoint, it could be considered an illegal checkpoint.
The most important thing you can do is work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to explore the possibilities of fighting your DUI charges. If you were arrested at a checkpoint, searching for possible checkpoint procedural violations could be a promising place to start.
Even if the evidence against you seems damaging, do not give up without a fight. Exploring the DUI checkpoint procedures could result in rendering the evidence against you inadmissible and avoiding a conviction.