Instead of a dry, boring article, the following is an excerpt from a recent interview
with Attorney Leckerman on the subject.
Leckerman: I think roadblock cases are great to defend. The reason is that most of these motorists are not driving in an erratic fashion before they are investigated for the DWI. When we’re looking at whether or not a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, we automatically have a defensible issue that the driver was operating the vehicle in a safe manner.
The Police Must Prove They Had Adequate Justification for Setting Up the Roadblock
Then, obviously, I want to delve into all the constitutional factors, regarding the roadblock itself. I think that there are great challenges to the statistical information that’s presented to justify the area where the roadblock’s set up.
Quite a few times, the standards are very low for sending the person from the first stage to the second stage. For instance, I’ve seen cases where the primary officer smelled the odor of alcohol and then tells a person to pull over.
The question becomes, “Well, why does this officer have the authority to do that, simply by smelling the odor of alcohol, without any other indication of intoxication?” Once the person goes into that secondary stage for the investigation that becomes a detention.
The Police Must Prove Reasonable Suspicion to Justify the Secondary Stage Detention
That detention has to be supported by what’s known as “reasonable suspicion.” If there isn’t reasonable suspicion, then the evidence that comes from that investigative detention can be thrown out. This evidence would be the field sobriety tests and any other harmful observations made by the police. Essentially, the whole case goes away if there’s a problem there.
You really want to look into why the driver was diverted to that secondary stage. If there wasn’t a good reason for it, then that’s a great challenge to the entire case.
Then, in general, the police department may also have a difficult time providing all the information that I’ve asked for concerning these roadblock cases. This will give me reason to have the case dismissed, if they can’t legally justify the roadblock with their paperwork.