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As we move into the month of May and the days begin to get longer, more and more people will begin to enjoy the weather outside and spend much more time on the road. Law Enforcement agencies all over Pennsylvania will also begin to set up sobriety checkpoints to do what they can take intoxicated drivers off the road. For those that don’t know, a DUI checkpoint or roadblock is a specifically designated location on a roadway where police are looking for potential impaired drivers.

If you or someone you know is arrested for a DUI as part of a checkpoint it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible. This is because there are procedures that must be followed with these checkpoints and if they are not that can have a impact on your case.  Many times I have a client come into my office for an initial consultation and they automatically assume they are guilty because they were caught in a checkpoint. A qualified,experienced, aggressive DUI attorney will look into this checkpoint to make sure that all procedures were followed.  Even if they were followed, that doesn’t mean that a person is automatically guilty of a DUI.  There are many ways to defend and attack a DUI which we will get into on other posts.

One of the most important procedures that must be followed is that police or law enforcement agency must make public the location of where the checkpoint will be set up. Unfortunately most people don’t go onto google prior to driving to see where these checkpoints will be. By the time that a person realizes there is a checkpoint ahead it is usually too late.  Some of the other requirements an experienced DUI attorney should look for whenever they have a client who has been arrested as a result of a DUI  checkpoint:

  • Are motorists randomly stopped
  • Safety of all motorists
  • Duration of stop (must be brief)
  • Clearly identifiable
  • Length of actual stop
  • Time and Place of Checkpoint

Many people feel that these sobriety checkpoints are overly intrusive and violate a motorists constitutional rights because there is no probable cause needed. Supporters of such procedures will always make the argument that the dangers of drunk driving and possible consequences outweigh any level of intrusion of field sobriety check points. In fact the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and United States Supreme Court agrees and does not feel that these checkpoints are a violation of an individuals 4th Amendment right to unreasonable search and seizure. There several states that do not conduct field sobriety checkpoints because they are prohibited by statute or find them illegal under state or federal constitution. Some of these states include Michigan, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.

If a person is flagged while going through a sobriety checkpoint an officer may ask that motorists to pull over to a previously selected area where a series of field sobriety tests may be performed by an officer. Some of things that officers are looking for when they are talking with motorists are slurred speech, the smell of alcohol, other occupants in the vehicle, open containers and many others. One of the things the police may have a motorists do if they suspect a person has been drinking is to submit to a PBT or portable breath test.  This is a small devise that a person would blow into on the side of the road that would show presence of alcohol. A Pennsylvania driver does have the right to refuse the field sobriety tests as well as the PBT if asked to submit to one or both.

If you are arrested for a DUI please contact my offices for a free consultation. I am available 24/7 to answer any questions that you may have and also to help you better understand your rights.