Roadblocks and Sobriety Checkpoints

Did you know that publicizing a roadblock/sobriety checkpoint is a factor used by the courts in
determining whether a roadblock meets federal and Tennessee constitutional requirements? This
factor is considered because a roadblock or sobriety checkpoint (the terms are generally
synonymous in the State of Tennessee) infringes upon a citizen’s Fourth Amendment protection
against unreasonable searches and seizures. This infringement is then balanced by the
government’s interest in protecting the public.

Therefore, Tennessee permits checkpoints to be used only in compliance with strict guidelines.
Each roadblock must be established and operated in accordance with predetermined operational
guidelines and supervisory authority that minimizes the risk of arbitrary intrusion on individuals
and limits the discretion of law enforcement officers at the scene. Due to the number of involved
officers, the myriad of unforeseen variables that occur during the sobriety checkpoint, and the
requirement of strict compliance, many roadblocks are determined to be invalid by the courts due
to a violation of the driver’s constitutional rights. If the roadblock is invalid, much of the
evidence is excluded from use by the district attorney general making it very difficult for the
State to proceed with a DUI or driving under the influence prosecution.

Therefore, it is incumbent upon defense counsel to fully investigate the guidelines by which a
particular roadblock was mandated to file the necessary motions (requests to the court) to void a
roadblock. This requires a great deal of time and expertise. The lawyers at Oberman & Rice have
a great deal of experience in contesting roadblocks and will be happy to meet with you upon

The Tennessee Highway Patrol has already publicized their schedule of sobriety checkpoints in
the Knoxville, Tennessee area for February and March 2024. WVLT-TV has publicized that
schedule. It may be found by clicking here.