Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Third District; heard
in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of McDonough
County, the Hon. William D. Henderson, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE SIMON DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
In the early morning of December 19, 1982, the defendant Jimmy L. Bartley, was detained at a roadblock in Macomb and arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) in violation of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 95 1/2, par. 11-501). The circuit court of McDonough County allowed the defendant's motion to suppress his arrest and all evidence obtained as a result of the arrest on the ground that the arrest was not based upon probable cause as required by the fourth and fourteenth amendments to the Constitution of the United States. The State certified that the suppression order substantially impaired its ability to prosecute the defendant and filed a timely notice of appeal. The appellate court affirmed (125 Ill. App.3d 575), and we granted the State's petition for leave to appeal to this court (94 Ill.2d R. 315). Briefs amicus curiae were filed on behalf of the defendant by the American Civil Liberties Union and by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. We note that after oral argument was heard in this case, a panel of appellate judges which did not include those who participated in the decision on appeal here reached the conclusion that a similar type of roadblock in Sangamon County was proper. People v. Conway (1985), 135 Ill. App.3d 887.
The roadblock in this case was conducted as a joint effort of the Illinois State Police, the McDonough County sheriff's department, the Macomb police department, and the Illinois Secretary of State's police. The decision to establish a drivers' license checkpoint in McDonough County was made in early December 1982, by Illinois State Police lieutenant Kenneth Phillips and Illinois State Police captain Noel Oliver. The site selected was the 1200 block of West Jackson Road in Macomb. The checkpoint operated for approximately two hours, beginning at 11 p.m. on Saturday, December 18, and ending sometime after 1 a.m. on Sunday, December 19. At 10 p.m. on the 18th, Lieutenant Phillips conducted a briefing for participating officers at the Illinois State Police area headquarters. The record does not indicate how many of the 15 to 20 officers from the various departments that operated the roadblock attended the briefing, but Illinois State Trooper Carroll McBride, Jr., who participated in the arrest of the defendant, did attend the briefing.
Jackson Road is a five-lane highway, with two lanes each eastbound and westbound and a center turning lane. There are local businesses along the road with off-street areas where cars can pull over. The site was on the main road, leading from Macomb's only all-night restaurant and was also near several taverns. The plan was to stop every westbound vehicle unless traffic backed up, as occurred once during the operation of the roadblock. The area was lighted, and police vehicles with their red lights flashing were used to funnel the westbound traffic into a single lane. The police officers were instructed to operate in teams of two. One officer stationed on the driver's side would ask for a driver's license and make a physical check of the outside of the vehicle. The second officer stood on the other side of the vehicle and made a physical check of the exterior, the interior, and the rear license plate. The officer on the driver's side used a flashlight to illuminate the interior of the car, including the rear seat if there were passengers there. The driver's license was checked, and any apparent violations were to be run through the Secretary of State's computer.
The police officers who testified stated that either the purpose or the primary purpose of the roadblock was to check drivers' licenses. Captain Oliver, however, testified that another purpose was to identify DUI drivers during the holiday season. The officers were told to be alert for violations other than those relating to drivers' licenses and to take enforcement action where necessary.
The officers testified that the roadblock was to operate according to a standard procedure for drivers' license checks set forth in a manual assembled by the State Police and entitled "Field Supervisor's Guide and Stationary Driver's License Check Policy" which was discussed at the briefing. Although the record does not indicate what specific instructions were given to the individual officers as to how they were to detect DUI violations, the record does indicate that the officers were instructed not to allow a suspected DUI violator to drive his car out of the checkpoint traffic lane, but instead to have one of the officers drive the car off the road.
The arresting officer in this case, Officer John Lucas of the Macomb police, testified that he did not attend the 10 p.m. briefing. When he arrived on duty at approximately 11:30 p.m., he was assigned to the roadblock. He was informed by Lieutenant Phillips that officers working in pairs would check driver's licenses and look for other violations. He did not understand the purpose of the roadblock to be to check for DUI violators, and he did not testify concerning any instructions he received on how to identify or treat suspected DUI offenders. At the time he had been a police officer for at least a year and had seen intoxicated persons on numerous occasions.
The roadblock resulted in 21 arrests, which included 7 for driving under the influence, 10 for illegal transportation of liquor, and the balance for driver's license violations. Sixty-four written warnings were also issued.
Before the roadblock began, Captain Oliver contacted the media. A local television crew filmed both the 10 p.m. briefing and the roadblock itself. A three-minute television videotape admitted into evidence described the roadblock as part of a crackdown on holiday drunk drivers.
When the defendant passed the checkpoint at approximately 12:45 a.m., he was questioned by Officer Lucas and Illinois State Trooper Carroll McBride, Jr. Both testified that when Officer Lucas asked the defendant for his driver's license, he fumbled, producing three or four other papers first, that his speech was slurred, and that he had the odor of alcohol on his breath. He had difficulty shifting his car into "park." When he was asked to step out of his automobile, he stumbled as he walked, and at one point Trooper McBride caught him before he fell. He was unable to pass the field sobriety tests. He refused to submit to a breathalyzer test. At that point, he was placed under arrest.
In his order suppressing the arrest and related evidence, the circuit judge found that the "alleged license check" was a subterfuge to allow police to search for DUI violators, a finding which is supported by the evidence; he also found that the traffic stop was based neither on probable cause nor on reasonable suspicion.
The question before us is whether the temporary roadblock at issue here violates the prohibition in the fourth amendment to the Constitution of the United States against unreasonable searches and seizures. Although there is no doubt that a roadblock stop is a seizure for fourth amendment purposes (Delaware v. Prouse (1979), 440 U.S. 648, 653, 59 L.Ed.2d 660, 667, 99 S.Ct. 1391, 1396; United States v. Martinez-Fuerte (1976), 428 U.S. 543, 556, 49 L.Ed.2d 1116, 1127, 96 S.Ct. 3074, 3082), we do not agree that the roadblock is per se violative of the fourth amendment because individuals are stopped without probable cause. Further, we do not agree with the defendant's argument that, before a driver may be stopped, the police officers must have formed an individualized suspicion that he is violating a law. Instead, our review of Supreme Court holdings and of cases from other jurisdictions convinces us that the question of whether a roadblock violates the fourth amendment is essentially one of reasonableness. The degree of intrusion on the individual's privacy must be balanced against the strength of the public need for the intrusion.
Probable cause is not always required for a search or seizure to be valid under the fourth amendment. United States v. Martinez-Fuerte (1976), 428 U.S. 543, 49 L.Ed.2d 1116, 96 S.Ct. 3074; Camara v. Municipal Court (1967), 387 U.S. 523, 18 L.Ed.2d 930, 87 S.Ct. 1727.
The Supreme Court has defined conditions under which drivers may be detained for various purposes. In Almeida-Sanchez v. United States (1973), 413 U.S. 266, 37 L.Ed.2d 596, 93 S.Ct. 2535, and later in United States v. Brignoni-Ponce (1975), 422 U.S. 873, 45 L.Ed. 2d 607, 95 S.Ct. 2574, the court held that the border patrol could stop cars to search for illegal aliens only when the officers had a specific, articulable suspicion that the car might contain illegal aliens. The occupants' appearance of Mexican ancestry was not sufficient. In Almeida-Sanchez the officers formed roving patrols which stopped individual cars and conducted full-scale searches. In Brignoni-Ponce two officers waited in a car parked by the side of the roadway, stopped individual cars, and asked questions about ...