Checking in on Checkpoints

Many people have, at some point in their lives, come upon a checkpoint on North Carolina streets or highways.

The roads are blocked in such a way to funnel you slowly by an officer who is doing an ‘investigation.’

Checkpoints have been challenged, both at the North Carolina and United States Supreme Courts as being unconstitutional as they are a traffic ‘stop’ without any reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed.

Many believe this is a violation of the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Both courts have upheld checkpoints as being constitutional, however there are strict guidelines by which they must be administered. These guidelines set what must be done (and who must authorize it) before the checkpoint is set up.

Additionally, guidelines set out how the stop must be conducted, including the purpose for the checkpoint and the frequency by which vehicles are stopped.

In instances where the checkpoint leads to citations or arrests, a review of the procedures by which the checkpoint was established is a good way to have the case challenged and potentially thrown out.

Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.