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Kentucky State Police Resumes Safety Checkpoints

By Kaufman and Stigger on

The Kentucky State Police resumed setting up traffic safety checkpoints across the state in April and May of 2022. The roadblocks will likely be common sites throughout the rest of the year. Troopers are checking for impaired drivers and making sure children are properly restrained in child safety seats. They are also using the opportunity to remind the public about the use of seatbelts.

On Saturday, May 24, 2022, the Kentucky State Police District 12 will be setting up roadblocks in Lexington and surrounding counties. District 12 includes Shelby, Spencer, Franklin, Spencer, Scott, Woodford, and Fayette Counties.

In Fayette County, safety checkpoints will be conducted in areas experiencing increased levels of crashes involving injuries and tragic deaths. Checkpoints will also appear in areas where safety restraint usage has been low.

Local KSP Troopers will focus their efforts in and around Lexington along US 25, US 27, US 60, Newton Pike, and the Ironworks area around the Kentucky Horse Park. You can see a full list of District 12 checkpoint sites here.

Legal Questions about Kentucky State Police Checkpoints

Why are checkpoint stops in Kentucky starting up again? Maybe some additional federal funding is going to be on the horizon. Maybe they’ll catch some bad guys, but that’s unlikely. You can be assured that some traffic tickets will be issued, although mostly for minor or even non-moving violations.

The Purpose of the Checkpoints

Whether or not a roadblock might be legal depends on its purpose. If it’s for purposes of crime control, it would be unconstitutional and illegal. If a roadblock is intended for purposes of promoting road safety though, the type of roadblocks that will be set up on the 24th are legal.

Sobriety and seat belt use are consistent with road safety though. The US Supreme Court has left the issue of safety checkpoints up to the individual states to allow or prohibit. Roadblocks (safety checkpoints) are legal under Kentucky law, but they must meet certain requirements.

When Might a Lexington Checkpoint Be Valid?

All traffic safety checkpoints must be determined by a policy-making law enforcement official with decision-making authority. A valid reason is needed to explain why a checkpoint was needed at the location selected. A variety of requirements must be met for a safety checkpoint to be legal. Those requirements follow:

  • The decision to set up a safety checkpoint along with its location and the procedures for its operation must be made by supervisory law enforcement officers. A couple of officers assigned to a department’s traffic enforcement division can’t make that decision on their own.
  • Authorities aren’t permitted to stop every vehicle that passes through a safety checkpoint. Stopping every third or fourth vehicle is permissible.
  • Sufficient safety precautions must be taken. There must be highly visible warning signs and adequate lighting upon approaching a checkpoint. Marked police vehicles must be at the scene along with uniformed officers.
  • There must be a beginning time and an end time for the roadblock. Police departments can’t run a traffic safety checkpoint for a couple of days at a time.
  • The traffic safety checkpoint must be clearly identified as such. It can’t be a checkpoint for anything that police officers feel like investigating.
  • Detention time for persons stopped at the checkpoint must be minimal. Detainees can’t be held longer than necessary.
  • The checkpoint must be publicized before it is implemented. When and where it will be set up must be disclosed to the public so that they have the option of avoiding it. Failure to avoid it manifests consent to be stopped at it.

The winter weather has now cleared. Expect to see more of these traffic safety checkpoints until Thanksgiving or even up to the New Year.

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