Recent Developments in Checkpoint Law May Allow for Suppression of Evidence

If you have been stopped at a checkpoint and have been charged with any violation or crime, there is a chance that the evidence in your case could be suppressed, resulting in a dismissal of your charges.

The Court of Appeals recently held that if a law enforcement agency does not have a written policy in place governing their traffic stop checkpoint procedures, that the evidence obtained from a traffic stop during a checkpoint could be suppressed. The court held that if the state wants to rely on checkpoints to establish its stated objective of deterrence of impaired driving, it must comply with G.S. 20-16.3A. The statute states, among other things, that a written policy must exist to allow the law enforcement agency to determine its compliance with existing state motor vehicle laws in its operation of that checkpoint. In the case of State v. White, the court held that the trial court did not err in suppressing the evidence gathered at a checkpoint where the agency which carried out the checkpoint did not have a written policy of procedure in place to set forth guidelines for how they would stop vehicles, ask for license and registration, and insurance information. The court held that the absence of a written policy was a substantial violation of the provisions of G.S. 20-16.3A, and warranted suppression of all evidence gathered during the checkpoint.

The holding of the Court of Appeals in State v. White still leaves open the question of whether or not an officer's departure from his department's written policy would be a proper basis for a motion to suppress. The fact is, law enforcement agencies around the state have varying standards for how the conduct checkpoint traffic stops. It appears that there will be substantial changes in the near future for all local agencies to comply with the provisions of G.S. 20-16.3A and the recent holding in State v. White.

For more information, contact The Law Offices of Darrin M. Gamradt, P.C.

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