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Charales v State – State must present evidence of a Constitutionally valid roadblock policy

Charales v. State, A14A1040, November 12, 2014.  R. Charales was found guilty of driving under the influence after a bench trial in Fulton County. Charales appealed after the Court denied his motion to suppress his arrest based upon an allegedly illegal roadblock by Atlanta Police which resulted in his arrest.  The State failed to present evidence that the Atlanta Police Department’s roadblock policy or checkpoint program had an appropriate primary purpose in 2009 when Charales was arrested for DUI.  The Court of Appeals relying on Brown v. State, 295 Ga. 787 (2013) and Williams v. State, 293 Ga. 883 (2013) found that the DUI conviction must be reversed because the State failed to put forth evidence that the Atlanta Police Department Roadblock policy was Constitutional and not based on an unconstitutional purpose in violation of the 4th Amendment like general crime deterrence.  Despite testimony from Sergeant Zachery Wilson at the suppression hearing that the purpose of this particular roadblock was for driver’s licenses, seat belts, and safety violations, there was no testimony nor written evidence admitted regarding the Atlanta Police Department’s roadblock program. City of Indianapolis v. Edmund, 531 U.S. 32 (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, 293 Ga. at 891.  Because the State failed to make this evidentiary showing the DUI conviction was reversed.  Another interesting side note, in this case, was the standard of review employed by Judge Doyle.  The erroneous standard was applied to the appellate review of this motion to suppress whereas of late several judges of the Court of Appeals had been applying a de novo standard of review of the law in motions to suppress where facts were undisputed as they appear to be in this case.

-Author: George Creal

Atlanta DUI | DUI Lawyer Atlanta