Most arrests related to driving under the influence (DUI) charges occur during target traffic stops or after collisions occur.
Some people may end up arrested not because of something they have done at the wheel but rather because of the route that they’ve taken. Drivers who encounter sobriety roadblocks, also called DUI checkpoints, are subject to screening and may end up arrested and charged with a drunk driving offense even though law enforcement officers did not witness them operating a vehicle erratically.
Are DUI checkpoints legal in Pennsylvania?
Although people question the legality of mass enforcement efforts, DUI checkpoints comply with the law. People have long tried to claim that DUI checkpoints are a violation of their individual rights, but such claims do not hold up in criminal court in most states.
The Supreme Court actually ruled on a checkpoint-related case decades ago and affirmed that establishing DUI checkpoints on major thoroughfares to screen large numbers of motorists for intoxication in a short amount of time is not inherently a Constitutional rights violation. Pennsylvania is one of many states that will permit police departments to conduct sobriety checkpoints as a way to deter and catch drunk drivers.
What happens when someone encounters a checkpoint?
Drivers who are on a road with a checkpoint ahead can sometimes turn around if the road conditions permit lawful maneuvers to do so. However, those who change their route to avoid a checkpoint may still draw the notice of law enforcement officers. There could be other police officers nearby that will conduct traffic stops with those who try to avoid the checkpoint.
Those who go through the checkpoint will have to answer a few basic questions. Provided that they don’t show signs of impairment, officers should wave them through. Only the drivers who police officers suspect of impairment will have to pull aside for additional screening.
The good news is that those who have been arrested at DUI checkpoints have the same options as other drivers when attempting to present a successful defense. Each DUI arrest is inherently unique and requires a careful review of the state’s evidence before someone can determine the best defense strategy available to their DUI charges with the assistance of an experienced legal professional.