Roadblocks Legal or Illegal in Georgia

Question: Are roadblocks legal in Savannah, Georgia?

Answer: It’s Savannah. Savannah commonly does roadblocks, typically especially around St. Patrick’s Day, July Fourth, any kind of holiday there will be roadblocks. And what most people don’t realize is that just because an officer has set up and the police have set up a roadblock does not mean that it’s legal. There are certain things that the officers have to do in order to actually have a legal roadblock. They have to have a set way that they’re going to conduct it, and they have to have proper approval. Not too long ago we had a case, actually around Garden City, where a roadblock had been set up spur of the moment and the officers involved decided they did not need to get a supervisor’s signature on it. And I had a client who came in after getting stopped at the roadblock. He had a pretty rough DUI defense for that, but we were able to get it tossed because they didn’t have the authority to set up a roadblock. And it makes me wonder how many other people were stopped that night? How many people went through the roadblock, did not know the obligations the officers and the facts that they had to meet in order to have the roadblock, got charged with DUI and actually suffered the consequences of DUI because they didn’t know any better and didn’t seek any kind of legal advice or counsel to try to beat a roadblock. So, there’s all sorts of ways to beat a roadblock. A lot of times in roadblocks, the officers will randomly select cars and that’s clearly not legal. We’ve argued that several times. They have to have a set way of doing it: they have to stop every car if it comes up there, or they have to have some sort of articulable way of discerning which cars they’re going to stop. And if you’re encountered at a roadblock and they ask if you’ve been drinking, I always tell everyone to deny, deny everything. That’s what I would do. I never, don’t give them any reason to try and find any DUI or any drunk driving, any reason to test for that with you. Just deny it. If it’s a roadblock and other people are going to be stopped, they’ll focus on them and not on you if you do not say that you’ve been drinking.

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