Illinois v. Lidster
What's at Stake
Reviewing police use of roadblocks to find witnesses to a crime. DECIDED
This is the third roadblock case to reach the Supreme Court since 1990. Having ruled that vehicles can be stopped in a search for drunk drivers but cannot be stopped in a search for drugs, the question now before the Court is whether the Fourth Amendment permits the police to establish a roadblock in the hope of finding witnesses to a prior crime. In this case, police in Lombard, Illinois set up a roadblock to investigate a fatal hit-and-run accident that took place in the Chicago suburb one week earlier. As a result of the roadblock, driver Robert S. Lidster was arrested and convicted on drunk driving charges. An Illinois appeals court overturned the conviction, stating that under an earlier Supreme Court roadblock case, Indianapolis v. Edmond, the roadblock resulted in an unreasonable seizure. The ACLU brief supports that finding, arguing that such indiscriminate seizures for traditional investigative purposes are unconstitutional.