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Martin v. State, A11A1922, December 7, 2011: Roadblock appealed from Douglas County State Court – Actual Supervisor who approved Roadblock is not necessary

Martin v. State, A11A1922, December 7, 2011: Martin was arrested for a marijuana/drug DUI after being stopped at a roadblock. She appealed the Douglasville Trial Court’s finding that the Roadblock was Constitutionally adequate. The Georgia Court of Appeals routinely has held that Roadblock is permissible when:

the State must prove that a highway roadblock program was implemented at the programmatic level for a legitimate primary purpose, that is, that the roadblock was ordered by a supervisor rather than by officers in the field and was implemented to ensure roadway safety rather than as a constitutionally impermissible pretext aimed at discovering general evidence of an ordinary crime. Elevating the roadblock decision from the officers in the field to the supervisory level limits the exercise of discretion by the officers in the field. In addition, the State must prove that all vehicles were stopped as opposed to random vehicle stops; the delay to motorists was minimal; the roadblock operation was well identified as a police checkpoint, and the screening officer’s training and the experience were sufficient to qualify him or her to make an initial determination as to which motorists should be given field tests for intoxication.

Martin argued in her appeal that the State failed to identify a supervisor who decided to conduct a roadblock at that exact time and place. At the hearing on the Douglas County Roadblock, Chief Deputy Stan Copeland testified that he was authorized to approve Roadblocks for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department. However, he normally did not get involved unless it was a large effort involving a large amount of overtime. Chief Deputy Copeland testified that Unit Commanders are also authorized to approve Roadblocks. The Roadblock at issue was a large coordinated by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department Carroll County Sheriff’s Department and the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety for “highway safety and driver sobriety”. Chief Deputy Copeland approved the Roadblock for the night of March 27-28, 2010.

The exact location and hours of operation of the various roadblocks were left to the unit commanders.  The Unit Commanders did not testify at the hearing on the roadblock even though they were delegated final policy-making authority by the Chief Deputy.  The Court of Appeals held that despite the absence of testimony from the Unit Commander as to the legitimate primary purpose as to the location and time was not necessary and that this particular Roadblock was not a roving patrol.

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