Roadblock Stops for Driving Under the Influence

August 29, 2013 in 4th Amendment Rights, DUI, Roadblock

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees in part, “the right of the people to be secure.. against unreasonable searches and seizures.. and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause.” In Illinois, a roadblock is not necessarily violative of the Fourth Amendment just because individuals are stopped without probable cause.

The question of whether a roadblock violates the Fourth Amendment is one of reasonableness, and the degree of intrusion into the individuals privacy is balanced against the strength of the public need for the intrusion. Temporary roadblocks to detect those who may be driving under the influence are reasonable and proper so long as the objective and subjective aspects of the intrusion are minimal. (1).

It is proper for the police officer to question the driver briefly, and possibly longer if the circumstances give the officer reasonable suspicion to do so. The officer may ask the driver to produce driving credentials, and the interior of the car may be examined with a flashlight. (1).

In weighing the objective nature of the intrusion by a roadblock, courts consider (a) the length of the stop, (b) the nature of the questioning, and (c) whether a search is conducted. In measuring the level of subjective intrusion produced by a roadblock, courts consider whether (a) the decision to institute the roadblock and to select the site is made by supervisory personnel, (b) the method employed to stop the vehicles is pre-established and systematic, (c) the roadblock is operated in accordance with preexisting guidelines, (d) the official nature of the operation is sufficiently apparent, and it is obvious that the roadblock does not in fact pose a safety risk, and (e) the police’s intent to establish the roadblock is publicized in advance. (2).

In conclusion, a police operated roadblock to check for motor vehicle operators driving under the influence is valid under the Fourth Amendment so long as the discretion of the police officers is circumscribed, the roadblock is established and operated in a safe manner, and the intrusion is minimal. (2).

(1) People v. Bartley, 109 Ill. 2d 273 (1985)
(2) People v. Fullwiley, 304 Ill. App. 3d 44 (1999))