What Are Your Rights At A Police Checkpoint?

What Are Your Rights At A Police Checkpoint? (Image 1)

The National Safety Council
says the Fourth of July is the most dangerous holiday of the year on the roads, which means law
enforcement will be out in full force on both sides of the river.

Here in
Richmond County, Operation Thunder has ended, but that
doesn't mean traffic checkpoints have stopped. Local law
enforcement will be out this week looking for speeders and drunk drivers, so if you come to a checkpoint, we want to make sure you know your

According to the Supreme Courts of Georgia and The United
States, police checkpoints are legal if they are done to ensure roadway safety.
You are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures at checkpoints,
however, that can change if an officer has probable cause.

cause. They smell marijuana, a dog has alerted on the vehicle, they see drugs,
they see evidence of a criminal activity. That is all probable cause,” says Lt. Lewis Blanchard with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.

Even if
you haven't broken the law during a traffic checkpoint, Blanchard says an
officer can ask you to get out of your car.

supreme court and the state of Georgia Court have already ruled that an officer has
the right to ask you out of your vehicle. He doesn't even have to give you a
reason. He does not have to answer your questions if they have probable cause
to stop you. You can be asked out of your vehicle,” says Blanchard.

there is no law that states you have to roll down your window all the way,
Blanchard says for safety reasons, an officer can also request that.

therefore, simply rolling down a window, that is a lesser intrusion than asking
you out of your vehicle and yes, you do have to follow those requests,” says Blanchard.

As Augustan Rocky
Eades learned several weeks ago, you can also be pulled over for performing a
U-turn before a roadblock.

are not breaking the law by avoiding a road check, but you have given the
officer probable cause to stop you because you have created a suspicious act in
front of the law enforcement officers. That gives them the right to stop you.
And you've actually reduced your rights, compared to if you had proceeded
through the road check,” says Blanchard.

says the best thing to do is to just continue through the road check with your
driver's license and registration ready. And he says the law states you don't
have to speak a word during the checkpoint.

don't have to legally answer an officers questions. That doesn't make sense in
most cases because if you cooperate you're going to get out of there a lot
quicker. Most people stop at a road check less than they stop at a traffic
light,” says Blanchard.

Blanchard says that if you don't comply
with the lawful requests of an officer, you can be arrested and charged with
obstruction of a law enforcement officer.


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