SEARCH & SEIZURE: SMITH V. COM. (COA 3/23/2007)

SMITH V. COM.
CRIMINAL:  Search and Seizure – Police Checkpoints

2006-CA-000659
PUBLISHED: AFFIRMING (MOORE)
DATE RENDERED: 3/23/2007

CA held sobriety checkpoint set up by the Kentucky State Police (KSP) was conducted properly.  It was undisputed that the checkpoint was properly established under General Order OM-E-4, the KSP policy for establishing and conducting traffic checkpoints.  Defendants argue that this evidence should be suppressed because the checkpoint was unconstitutionally conducted due to the discretionary decisions made by Trooper Mills to stop and restart the checkpoint multiple times.  Defendants asserted that the exercise of discretion by Trooper Mills was unconstitutional.
For a checkpoint to be constitutional, it must be executed pursuant to a systematic plan, and the officers conducting the stop should not be permitted to exercise their discretion regarding specifically which vehicles to stop.  Here, CA found the checkpoint to be constitutional.  While the checkpoint was in operation, every vehicle that came through it was stopped.  However, when the traffic congestion became so great that the checkpoint was no longer safe for motorists, all vehicles were permitted to pass through it “until all vehicles were gone.”  Then, the troopers restarted the checkpoint and stopped a group of vehicles until the congestion again caused a safety hazard.  Accordingly, specific vehicles were not targeted for stops, and the stops were not randomly conducted.  Trooper’s decisions to stop and restart the checkpoint were not exercises of his discretion.

By Scott Byrd 

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