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Are DUI checkpoints or sobriety roadblocks legal in Georgia?

On Behalf of | Dec 15, 2023 | DUI

Targeted drunk driving enforcement efforts have limited efficacy. It is simply impossible for Georgia police officers to locate and interact with everyone who might be under the influence while driving.

Police officers often watch for impaired driving more carefully when major events end and bars closed and on dates that have a strong association with drunk driving, like major federal holidays. They may also perform chemical tests on drivers after collisions to rule out the possibility that impairment contributed to the crash.

Those enforcement efforts do catch some dangerous drivers and deter others, but they are sporadic enough to have minimal impact on public safety. Large-scale enforcement efforts, like sobriety checkpoints or driving under the influence (DUI) roadblocks, are another enforcement option in some jurisdictions. Are DUI checkpoints legal in Georgia?

Yes, the state allows drunk driving checkpoints

A federal Supreme Court ruling decades ago helped to establish the federal legality of DUI checkpoints. Since then, any efforts to regulate or prohibit checkpoints have occurred on a state-by-state basis. Georgia does permit police departments to use sobriety checkpoints as a way to identify and arrest multiple drunk drivers in a short amount of time.

Police departments have to comply with numerous regulations and paperwork requirements to conduct checkpoints legally. They also have to minimize the disruption for drivers who do not show signs of impairment and are therefore not subject to detention or arrest. Despite the challenges involved, many police departments regularly set up DUI checkpoints as a way to screen dozens of drivers in a short amount of time.

In fact, Georgia police departments have even tried to work around the rules that protect drivers from checkpoints. The law does not prohibit people from changing their route to avoid a checkpoint ahead. Georgia police departments have previously set up false checkpoints to encourage drivers to exit a highway. Those drivers didn’t know there was another checkpoint hidden ahead of them.

It is possible for people arrested at a DUI checkpoint to defend against their pending charges. Issues ranging from breath test calibration failures to overzealous officers may affect the case the state has against a motorist. Seeking legal guidance to learn more about what laws apply to DUI arrests and prosecutions in Georgia may benefit those hoping to avoid a conviction.

From offices in Augusta-Richmond County we serve clients in neighboring communities including Grovetown, Thomson, Waynesboro, Harlem, Lincolnton, and Wrens. Beyond Augusta we handle cases in Columbia County, Burke County, McDuffie County, Lincoln County and Wilkes County. We also proud to represent military families and veterans from Fort Gordon, Hunter Army Airfield, Fort Stewart, Fort Benning, Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem.