Challenging The Execution Of A DUI Checkpoint

Are law enforcement authorities allowed to use roadblocks to force all drivers passing through a certain area to stop? The answer depends greatly on the specific circumstances.

But if you were arrested for impaired driving at such a checkpoint, a skilled defense attorney can make many strong arguments to challenge it. If the checkpoint does not meet specific standards then it very well be unconstitutional.

At Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers, in Chattanooga, we have helped shaped the law in Tennessee on the invalid execution of a DUI checkpoint. Call 423-265-2385 for a free consultation.

When Can Police Use Checkpoints?

To stop a motorist, law enforcement officers normally must have probable cause or reasonable suspicion of unlawful conduct. If officers don’t have those grounds, the stop or seizure is unreasonable and therefore unconstitutional.

Roadblocks are an exception to this rule. They are only permitted, however, when the roadblock or sobriety checkpoints meets clear guidelines to properly balance individual liberty interests with the public interest in being protected from drunk drivers.

These guidelines include factors such as:

  • Was the decision to conduct the roadblock made by supervisory officials using neutral standards to minimize the risk of arbitrary action by officers in the field?
  • Was there statistical evidence of previous crashes or incidents in or around the location chosen?
  • Were there predetermined limits on the duration of the checkpoint?
  • Did police provide sufficient advance notice of the checkpoint to the public and other law enforcement agencies through appropriate communication channels?

In the 2018 case of State v. Franklin, our firm successfully overturned a DUI conviction on the basis of a bad checkpoint. In Franklin, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals reaffirmed how important guidelines are in protecting against constitutional violations when police use checkpoints.

Were You Stopped At a Roadblock?

In Hamilton County and the surrounding area, law enforcement authorities often use roadblocks to address safety concerns after events and festivals or during specific holidays when many people consume alcoholic beverages.

But authorities do not have a blank check to do this. In the Franklin case, we successfully argued on behalf of our client that the checkpoint used by the Tennessee Highway Patrol violated the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and article 1, section 7 of the Tennessee Constitution. The court ordered the dismissal of all charges against our client resulting from the illegal stop at a roadblock after a summer festival.

Get The Help You Need

Our defense lawyers can provide the help you need to push back strongly against DUI charges arising from a sobriety checkpoint. Call our office to set up a no-cost consultation or complete our brief online form.

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