DUI Checkpoints in Pennsylvania
Know Your Constitutional Rights
All vehicle stops by police officers must pass constitutional scrutiny, which means that the stop has to be compliant with the constitutional prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures. Although most police stops of vehicles are based on the police officer’s observations of the vehicle at the time of the stop and its compliance with the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code, in some cases the stop of the vehicle is based on a random enforcement of a police checkpoint.
Police checkpoints can be lawfully established to enforce any provision of the Motor Vehicle Code. Although most checkpoints are set up to enforce the Driving Under the Influence provisions, they sometimes are designed to enforce such provisions as the required use of seatbelts and the financial responsibility provisions. Regardless of the purpose of the checkpoint, police stops at checkpoints must meet the constitutional requirements and cannot be based on “arbitrary invasions at the unfettered discretion of the officers in the field."
The courts have established certain guidelines for determining if vehicular checkpoints are constitutional. These guidelines are:
- Stops are brief and do not include a search of your physical person;
- You have to have proper warning of a checkpoint;
- Stops must have administrative approval;
- The time and place where the stop is located should be based on where intoxicated drivers are likely to drive;
- Stops need to be objective and not left solely to officer discretion.
If the police do not substantially comply with these guidelines, the court will suppress the evidence derived from the stop, including the results of field sobriety and blood alcohol tests.
What should you do if you are stopped at a checkpoint and arrested?
You should cooperate with the police, even if you believe they are wrong. If you are arrested or charged with DUI, you should immediately retain an experienced DUI lawyer. Regan Law Firm attorneys are experienced Allentown DUI lawyers and can help you. Call us at (484) 498-6334 to schedule a free & confidential initial case evaluation.