DUI roadblocks have been in operation for decades now. While the United States Supreme Court has found sobriety checkpoints to be constitutional (under certain conditions), many states have additional laws that more tightly regulate how roadblocks can be used, or in some cases outlaw them completely. When a DUI roadblock case goes to court, as you yourself might be experiencing, the judge will analyze the details of the roadblock to decide if it was worth the invasion of privacy. Perhaps the most important factor in a roadblock is the discretion officers have in running it (read Discretion for more info). There should be limits on discretion enforced on the officers running it, and those limits should be created by an appropriate authority. Therefore, standards or guidelines put in place by police supervisors, chiefs, administrators, etc are a must-have for a constitutionally sound roadblock.
Standards were designed to limit police discretion in a Roadblock. Generally, these Standards create rules for the field officers to follow during the Roadblock. Another role of these standards is an accountability system of sorts; a ruler to place an officer’s performance or actions against, and take disciplinary action if necessary.
Exactly what police supervisors should do, say, and order varies. But generally, it must be clear who ordered the roadblock and why. A well supervised roadblock will have the time and place decided beforehand by the police supervisor. There will be reasons for those choices; high-DUI activity time, close to bars, etc. Lastly, it should be clear who ordered the road block. If police cannot provide this information, the Roadblock may be illegal.
Roadblock “Balance of Interests” Test
Many roadblock court cases have looked at the same essential “balance” of interests. Courts balance the public concern with drunk driving and the intrusion on your personal rights and privacy. Ultimately it is up to the police how invasive their actions or methods will be.