What You Need to Know About a DUI Checkpoint
Sept. 21, 2023
Law enforcement officers use DUI checkpoints, also known as sobriety checkpoints, to “catch” drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs. If you have never encountered a DUI checkpoint before, the process can seem intimidating and nerve-wracking. But do not think you are the only one who feels this way. It is perfectly normal to get nervous when dealing with police on the road, even when you did nothing wrong.
Our DUI defense attorney at Korey Leslie, Attorney-At-Law, LLC, has successfully defended Pennsylvania drivers against drunk driving charges for many years. We can explain your rights if you are stopped by police at a sobriety checkpoint and review the facts of your case to get the charges against you dismissed. From our office in York, Pennsylvania, we also serve clients facing DUI charges in Lancaster, Camp Hill, and Harrisburg.
DUI Checkpoints in Pennsylvania
While DUI checkpoints are used in Pennsylvania to prevent drunk driving accidents and protect the public, some people believe they are illegal. Over the years, sobriety checkpoints have been upheld as constitutional. However, there are certain rules law enforcement must follow when using DUI checkpoints in Pennsylvania:
DUI checkpoints are permitted to create a minimal intrusion of privacy to citizens but officers are generally not allowed to search the vehicle or its occupants.
It is the authority of the police department’s administration, not individual officers, to set up sobriety checkpoints and make decisions regarding its location and time.
Law enforcement must establish objective criteria or a system, as instructed by the department’s administration, for deciding which vehicles to stop.
Law enforcement must publicly announce the location and time of sobriety checkpoints in advance.
If law enforcement in Pennsylvania does not follow these guidelines, a DUI checkpoint may be considered illegal and any arrests made at that checkpoint may be considered unlawful and subsequently be dismissed.
Your Rights at a DUI Checkpoint
Although the facts of each case are unique, you must understand some of your basic rights to know how to behave when stopped at a DUI checkpoint:
Avoiding a Checkpoint
Depending on how far ahead you see a sobriety checkpoint, you may be able to change course to avoid the checkpoint. As long as you do not break traffic rules in the process (e.g., making an illegal U-turn), you are permitted to evade a checkpoint. However, trying to avoid a checkpoint may catch the police officers’ attention, which can give them probable cause to stop you and suspect that you have been drinking.
During a traffic stop, motorists are obligated to provide their documentation for inspection, such as the driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. After you are stopped at a DUI checkpoint, the officer may ask you to provide basic information and ask if you have been drinking. Regardless of what your response is, the officer will observe your behavior for signs of impairment during the entire interaction.
If the officer has probable cause to believe you may be impaired by alcohol or drugs, they will most likely ask you to take a field sobriety test. While you are not legally required to take a field sobriety test and cannot face any penalties for your refusal, refusing to partake in a field sobriety test is likely to trigger increased suspicion, which may lead to a DUI arrest. If you get arrested, you are legally required to take a chemical test at the officer’s request due to Pennsylvania’s implied consent law. Refusal to do so can result in an automatic suspension of your driver’s license for 12 months if that is your first offense or 18 months if you have DUI convictions on your record or have refused chemical testing in the past.
Fearless Legal Support
If you have been arrested at a DUI checkpoint in Pennsylvania, it is vital to reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. Working with an attorney can improve the outcome of your case and increase your chances of getting your case dismissed. Our attorney at Korey Leslie, Attorney-At-Law, LLC, provides strong defense and support to motorists facing DUI charges in York, Pennsylvania, and the surrounding area. Reach out today for a free consultation.