Fayette County Roadblock Policy Unconstitutional

The Fourth Amendment prohibits even temporarily detaining a motorist without a reasonable suspicion of criminal wrongdoing. One exception is that police may set up a roadblock or checkpoint to look for impaired drivers, or even to check for valid license. But the Supreme Court has held that a police checkpoint program that serves the purpose of general crime control violates the Fourth Amendment. In order to survive a constitutional challenge, therefore, the agency conducting the roadblock must show that its policy is limited to an appropriate purpose.

At a hearing before Fayette County State Court Judge Jason B. Thompson last week, the Sheriff’s Roadblock Policy, as revised in July 2012, was examined for its purpose. Because the written policy included “reducing the potential for and incidences of unlawful behavior,” the Court held it to be unconstitutional. As a result, the evidence gathered in eight cases was suppressed, and the charges will be dismissed.