People who drive under the influence of alcohol cause a disproportionate number of collisions every year, including a large number of fatal crashes. Police officers often engage in drunk driving enforcement on a case-by-case basis. They monitor traffic and stop individuals who appear to have impaired driving abilities or they carefully assess those involved in a car crash to determine if they were under the influence at the time of the wreck.
While such efforts can lead to arrests, they are also very limited in scope. Sobriety checkpoints or drunk driving roadblocks are a very efficient way for police officers to identify those who commit driving under the influence (DUI) offenses on the Pennsylvania roads.
Many people view such checkpoints as a violation of their right to privacy or to be free from unreasonable searches. Are such checkpoints even legal?
Yes, Pennsylvania permits sobriety checkpoints
The federal Supreme Court has had to rule on sobriety checkpoint cases because people have asserted that such checkpoints are a violation of the rights of the drivers stopped. The standing precedent that guides decisions in such cases establishes that sobriety checkpoints are not a violation of an individual’s federal Constitutional rights.
Lawmakers and law enforcement in Pennsylvania concur with that opinion. In fact, state law enforcement agencies frequently announce roadblocks before they occur. Drivers in Pennsylvania may encounter DUI checkpoints near holidays and at major intersections on busy weekends.
By planning checkpoints on high-traffic roads or days that have a strong correlation with increased drunk driving, like holiday weekends, law enforcement agencies aim to catch those driving drunk and deter people from getting behind the wheel in the first place.
Can you fight a checkpoint charge?
There may be multiple viable defense strategies that you can use to respond to a DUI charge after a traffic stop at a sobriety checkpoint. From questioning how frequently police officers calibrated their chemical test devices to evaluating the checkpoint paperwork for technical mistakes, there may be multiple strategies that can help you mount a defense against pending DUI charges after a roadblock-related arrest.
Educating yourself about DUI charges and law enforcement practices in Pennsylvania will help you better handle recent criminal accusations.