Hall v. Commonwealth

In Hall v. Commonwealth, 12 Va. App. 972, 406 S.E.2d 674 (1991), the Court found a checkpoint unconstitutional where the field officer alone chose the time and which of fifty-four pre-approved locations in a rural county at which to conduct a checkpoint. Our holding was based on the fact that the checkpoint was established without seeking and obtaining prior approval from a supervisor. The procedure in place at the time required the field officer to submit a post-checkpoint report "upon completing the 'detail' . . . giving the place, time and duration of the 'checking detail,' the number of vehicles stopped, the number of warnings or summonses issued, and the number of arrests made and the reasons therefor." Id. at 974, 406 S.E.2d at 676. A supervisor then approved the post-checkpoint form. See id. The Court acknowledged that a "field officer may have a better idea which of the several pre-approved locations might be the best to set up the road checks and when they should be activated." Id. at 975, 406 S.E.2d at 676. However, because the plan required no prior approval, we held "that the plan unnecessarily left the individual trooper with such broad discretion that it was subject to abuse" and, thus, exceeded "the limitations permitted by law." Id. The Court further stated that if the trooper had communicated his plan to a supervisor "with the supervisor making the ultimate selection of the site and time, this procedure would ensure that officers would not have the unbridled authority to activate a particular check point to stop a particular individual." Id. at 975-76, 406 S.E.2d at 676.