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Publishing sobriety checks, license check points are required by law

From time to time the Williamson Herald is asked by local, county and state agencies to post sobriety and driver’s license checkpoints. The Herald has complied by posting the locations and times as provided by these agencies in our eblast, online at WilliamsonHerald.com and occasionally in our weekly print edition.

In response to these postings numerous inquires have been received, most asking why the paper would ‘tip the hand’ and let those who are potentially driving while under the influence know the places to avoid. The publishing of these checkpoints is not a policy of the newspaper; it is a public service that is required by law.

For the official language, Dalya Qualls, Tennessee Highway Patrol spokesperson offered: “The Tennessee Highway Patrol is required by state law to publicize driver license and sobriety checkpoints (State v. Downey, 945 SW2d 102 Tenn (1997). It is the policy of the Tennessee Highway Patrol to conduct said checkpoints in a safe, effective and lawful manner in an effort to establish highway safety and protect the citizens of the state of Tennessee. The Tennessee Highway Patrol must also follow established guidelines to ensure successful prosecution of DUI cases as well as other traffic or criminal violations.”

She cited State v. Downey, 945 SW2d 102 Tenn. (1997). “A sobriety roadblock is reasonable under the State Constitution when established and operated in accordance with predetermined operational guidelines and supervisory authority. The decision to hold a sobriety roadblock, as well as decision as to its time and place, should be matters reserved for prior administrative approval, thus removing determination of those matters from discretion of police officers in field: additionally, question of which vehicles to stop at roadblock should not be left to unfettered discretion of officers at scene, but should be in accordance with objective standards prefixed by administrative decision.”

She also offered: The Court endorsed utilization of certain factors:

The degree of discretion, if any, left to the officer in the field:

The location designated for the roadblock:

The time and duration of the roadblock:

Standards set by superior officers:

Advance notice to the public at large:

Advance warning to the individual approaching motorist:

Maintenance of safety conditions:

Degree of fear or anxiety generated by the mode of operation:

Average length of time each motorist is detained:

Physical factors surrounding the location, type and method of operation:

The availability of less intrusive methods for combating the problem:

The degree of effectiveness of the procedure: and

Any other relevant circumstances which might bear upon the test.

 

 

Posted on: 2/27/2012

 
 

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