Recently in 2015 a Georgia appellate panel tossed a DUI conviction on the grounds that the police checkpoint used to stop the defendant was unlawful. Why?
Atlanta DUI checkpoints are strict and must be followed in order to avoid violating drivers’ Fourth Amendment protections against illegal search and seizure. In order to conduct a checkpoint, a Atlanta PD must prove that there is a need for it (i.e., an unusually large amount of DUI arrests at the specific location). The checkpoint must be approved by the supervising officer in advance—a group of officers cannot spontaneously decide to conduct a DUI checkpoint one night.
Atlanta DUI checkpoints must be publicized in advance to have a deterrent affect on drinking and driving. At the checkpoint, there must be a method regarding which vehicles are stopped (i.e., every car, every third car, etc).
In the case decided by the Georgia Court of Appeals, Johns Creek Police Sgt. Ronnie Young in June 2011 submitted to his superior a written proposal for several traffic safety checkpoints for the upcoming Fourth of July weekend. His superior approved the proposal.
At about 6:30 p.m. on July 4, 2011, defendant Renee Armentrout stopped at a roadblock the officers set up at the intersection of Bell Road and Cauley Creek Drive. According to an order by Fulton State Court Judge Jane Morrison, Young testified that he had initial contact with Armentrout and observed she smelled of alcohol, slurred her speech and had red, watery eyes. Armentrout also admitted to drinking “a little bit,” according to Morrison’s order. After failing a breath test and performing poorly on field sobriety tests—according to officers’ testimony—Armentrout was arrested and later charged with DUI.
On appeal, Armentrout argued that there were several problems with the roadblock, including that neither officer testified about the length of time each motorist was delayed. Saying the state presented no testimony about the Johns Creek Police Department’s roadblock program or policies, she argued that the state also had failed to satisfy the requirement that the roadblock was implemented pursuant to a checkpoint program that, “when viewed at the programmatic level,” has an appropriate primary purpose other than general crime control. On that latter point, she noted that Fulton State Court Judge Wesley Tailor, in a case involving the same roadblock and same officers, had determined that the state had failed to satisfy all of the law’s requirements in that it failed to provide an oral or written roadblock policy or offer testimony from another individual with more direct knowledge of such a policy.
This article is at point as to why you need a qualified Atlanta DUI Attorney. Armentrout’s case lasted 4 years after she was originally convicted of a DUI. This is why there is always hope that a Georgia DUI can be appealed and won.
Never loose hope if you have been stopped at a DUI Checkpoint. Contact the Howard Law Group so we can guide you through the process. Defend your RIGHTS!