It may happen that you encounter a roadblock during which you are scrutinized by the police although there is no apparent reason for them to do so. You might have been informed that they were conducting sobriety checks, verifying that everyone passing through had their license and registration, that all drivers had insurance coverage, or that you were properly using your seatbelt. Or maybe you were questioned by immigration officers in order to find out whether you have proof of citizenship. Whatever the reason, after you were allowed to continue on your way you were probably left feeling shaken, fearful, and intimidated.
Ultimately, whatever explanation you received for being stopped at the roadblock, the best advice is not to launch into a rant over your rights and whether this roadblock is or is not constitutional. You may end up discovering that the courts consider them legal and a useful law enforcement tactic.
Do you have any rights once you enter a roadblock?
It is important for you to know that the police do not have a right to search either you or your vehicle unless they have reason to believe that you have committed a crime or are in the process of committing it. What they should do is ask you if they can conduct the search.
Once they ask, you should not feel obligated to allow them to do so. No matter what intimidatory tactics they use, such as asking you if you are not allowing the search because you are hiding something, you have the right to ignore their request. You should answer simply that you value your privacy and refuse the search.
What makes a constitutionally valid checkpoint?
In order for a checkpoint not to violate anyone’s rights according to the Constitution, certain requirements must be met. The site and process to be followed must be established by supervisors of law enforcement and not by a single officer in the field. Also:
- Clearly identifiable police vehicles must be visible.
- The safety of all drivers must be maintained.
- Proper lighting or warning signs must be obvious.
- Reasonable locations must be chosen.
- A neutral selection process for drivers must be predetermined.
- Police cars must be visible from far away.
- Police officers must be wearing their uniforms.
- Questions to drivers must relate to the purpose of the roadblock, any other questions should be omitted.
Other Constitutional Considerations
If law enforcement officers follow the required terms, roadblocks are typically considered to be constitutional. If any element is missing and you end up being charged with a DUI, for example, you may have a strong case against the process followed by the officers at the roadblock. You may claim that the roadblock and the way you were questioned violated your Fourth Amendment rights and that the roadblock itself was unconstitutional.
Sometimes, you can find out in advance about a roadblock along your route. Other times, there may be no way to avoid them without causing a traffic jam or an accident.
If you feel like you have been detained at a roadblock for no specific agenda click here strolenylaw.com. You may find that your Fourth Amendment rights may have been violated. No driver should be profiled because of their race, age, or the type of vehicle they are driving.