Checkpoint for driver’s license is proper


In 2000, Mississippi Highway Patrol Officer Todd Miller requested permission of his supervisor to set up a vehicle checkpoint in Greene County on Highway 57. Miller received permission and the vehicle checkpoint was set up around 11:00 p.m. Miller was assisted at this checkpoint by two officers of the Greene County Sheriff’s Department.

The purpose of the checkpoint was to check for valid tags, inspection stickers, licenses and traffic violations. All vehicles were required to stop at the checkpoint. However, no log was maintained of the cars or the activity at the checkpoint.

At approximately 11:25 p.m., Tyrone Dixon was stopped by Miller. According to Miller, after stopping Dixon, he noted that Dixon smelled of alcohol and that his eyes were “kind of blurry and stuff.” When asked by Miller if he had consumed any alcohol that night, Dixon responded that he had. Dixon was then transported to the Greene County Sheriff’s Department, where he consented to an intoxilyzer test. The test showed Dixon’s blood alcohol level to be .152 percent.

Dixon was convicted of DUI first offense and sentenced to 48 hours. On appeal, he argued the checkpoint was unconstitutional. MCOA affirmed.


In reliance on U.S. Supreme Court case Whren v. U.S., 517 U.S. 806 (1996), this court has observed that the temporary detention of an individual by the stopping of his vehicle is a seizure within the ambit of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Any such stop must therefore be reasonable.

The determination of what is reasonable under these circumstances requires a balance between the public interest and the individual right to personal security free from arbitrary interference by law officers. See U.S. Supreme Court case Brown v. Texas, 443 U.S. 47 (1979). This balance mandates a weighing of the gravity of the public concerns served by the seizure, the degree to which the seizure advances that public interest and the severity of the interference with individual belief.

Dixon asks this court to find that the checkpoint in this case was unconstitutional in that it (1) did not serve the public interest, (2) was not done in accordance with a standard procedure, and (3) unduly interfered with his liberty. He suggests that these three failings render the stop unreasonable and therefore unconstitutional.

We said in Briggs that the State has a legitimate interest in making certain (1) that the vehicles traveling upon its roads have been properly licensed and inspected, and (2) that the persons driving those vehicles are properly licensed to do so. The establishment of a roadblock, where all vehicles and drivers are stopped is an acceptable manner of achieving that interest.

Nothing in the record presented to this court demonstrates that a benevolent purpose was executed in a malevolent manner. Nor is there anything in the record which indicates that this roadblock was executed in an unreasonable or overly intrusive manner. Accordingly, this court finds no merit in this issue.