... The appellant contends the Patrick County checkpoint was constitutionally deficient under the Fourth Amendment based on the general precedent of seminal cases regarding roadblocks. Appellant cites the United States Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Texas
, 443 U.S. 47 (1979), and the Supreme Court of Virginia's decision in Lowe v. Commonwealth
, 230 Va. 346, 337 S.E.2d 273 (1985), cert. denied, 475 U.S. 1084 (1986). He does not contest the trooper's actual conduct of the checkpoint, but only the decision to implement it. Specifically, the appellant argues that the establishment of the checkpoint was unconstitutional under our decision in Hall v. Commonwealth
, 12 Va. App. 972, 406 S.E.2d 674 (1991). His rationale is that (1) the field officers (Troopers Meade and Bowling) failed to give their supervisor an independent, site specific law enforcement reason for conducting the checkpoint and (2) the supervisor's (the First Sergeant's) approval of the checkpoint request was “rubber stamping” or “remote control supervision,” thereby rendering his supervisory approval illusory. We disagree and find the procedure used in this case by the state police to be constitutionally valid and supported by our decision in Crouch v. Commonwealth
, 26 Va. App. 214, 494 S.E.2d 144 (1997).
It is indisputable that the stopping of a motor vehicle during a traffic checking detail constitutes a seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. See Lowe,
230 Va. at 349, 337 S.E.2d at 275. The stop must, therefore, be reasonable so as to minimize intrusion into an individual's privacy. As such, the United States Supreme Court has held that “the Fourth Amendment requires that a seizure must be based on specific, objective facts indicating that society's legitimate interests require the seizure of the particular individual, or that the seizure must be carried out pursuant to a plan embodying explicit, neutral limitations on the conduct of individual officers.” Brown
, 443 U.S. at 51. [Page 175] Law enforcement officers may not stop motorists in a wholly random and discretionary manner. However, the United States Supreme Court has stated in dicta, in Delaware v. Prouse
, 440 U.S. 648 (1979), that a state is not precluded
from developing methods for spot checks that involve less intrusion or that do not involve the unconstrained exercise of discretion. Questioning of all oncoming traffic at roadblock-type stops is one possible alternative.
. at 663. When the field officers' discretion is limited and the checkpoint is established pursuant to an explicit plan, a checkpoint to ensure and improve traffic safety is lawful. See Indianapolis v. Edmond
, 531 U.S. 32 (2000).
“The validity of a checkpoint depends upon the amount of discretion remaining with the field officers operating the roadblock. Clearly, roadblocks are constitutional when conducted according to explicitly neutral plans which completely eliminate the discretion of the operating officers.” Crouch
, 26 Va. App. at 218, 494 S.E.2d at 146. In Crouch,
we upheld the constitutionality of a checkpoint where it was established in response to an assignment given to a state trooper to conduct a traffic checking detail at a specific location in Fauquier County some time during the work week. The trooper selected the day and time, and the trooper received “verbal permission” to proceed.
The Commonwealth argues that [the officer's] limited authority to determine the specific time of the roadblock during the designated work week does not constitute unbridled discretion. We agree. The need to evaluate weather conditions and determine the availability of other officers provides a reasonable basis for this procedure. [The officer] complied with the restrictions, which limited any potential abuse. His supervisor determined the site of the roadblock in advance.
. at 219-20, 494 S.E.2d at 146-47. ...