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Armentrout v State- No SOP Not a Constitutional Roadblock

ARMENTROUT v. STATE, A15A0093, Court of Appeals of Georgia, May 15, 2015.  Renee Armentrout was stopped at a police roadblock implemented by the John’s Creek Police Department in Fulton County. She was ultimately arrested and charged with DUI. Armentrout challenged the Constitutionality of the Roadblock. The State bears the burden of establishing the Constitutionality of the Roadblock.

At the hearing on the Constitutionality of the Roadblock, the State offered the following evidence. The Roadblock Supervisor  Sergeant Young testified that he submitted checkpoint proposals to a superior officer day before the Roadblock and obtained approval. Sergeant Young had a supervisory authority about implementing Police roadblocks.  Sergeant Young testified that the checkpoint stopped all vehicles, was well-identified, was conducted by well-trained officers, and only minimally delayed motorists. In addition, the State introduced the proposal submitted by Sergeant Young, which stated that the goal of the July 4th Task Force was “to establish safety checkpoints to enhance safe travel” through the city and that the “primary purpose of the checkpoints [was] to conduct a check of driver’s licenses, and to identify drivers who are under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.” Sergeant Young reiterated that this was indeed the checkpoint’s primary purpose.

The Trial Court denied the Defendant’s motion challenging the Constitutionality of the Roadblock finding that the above was sufficient evidence of a legitimate primary purpose at the programmatic level. The Court of Appeals reversed the finding that given there was neither testimony nor a standard operating procedure admitted establishing department roadblock policy generally and that the State failed to carry its burden. The U.S.Supreme Court in City of Indianapolis v. Edmond, 531 U.S. 32 (121 Sgt. 447, 148 LE2d 333) (2000), requires “an examination of the policy purpose of the checkpoints, viewed at the programmatic level, to ensure that an agency’s checkpoints are established primarily for a lawful and focused purpose like traffic safety rather than to detect evidence of ordinary criminal wrongdoing.” Williams v. State, 293 Ga. 883, 886 (2) (750 SE2d 355) (2013); accord Brown v. State, 293 Ga. 787, 799 (750 SE2d 148) (2013). Further, a finding that a particular Police Roadblock has a legitimate primary purpose other than ordinary crime control and deterrence is “not enough to satisfy the Edmond requirement.”  Id. This means that some evidence of the Standard Operating Procedure of the Police Agency must be placed in evidence or the State can not establish Constitutionality.

-Author: George Creal

Georgia DUI Lawyer | DUI Attorney Atlanta