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Are DUI checkpoints legal in Pennsylvania?

On Behalf of | Jan 11, 2021 | Drunk Driving |

Few things can ruin an otherwise fun night on the town faster than flashing lights in your rearview mirror. If an officer suspects you may be driving under the influence of alcohol, he or she may ask you to perform a field sobriety test or submit to a breath test. If you fail either, you may find yourself in handcuffs. 

While roadside stops are a common enforcement technique, sobriety checkpoints also occur throughout the Keystone State. For these checkpoints to pass legal muster, though, they must comply with strict requirements. Among others, these include the following. 

Neutrality

Unlike roadside stops where officers target specific vehicles, sobriety checkpoints must be neutral. That is, officers must stop all approaching vehicles or a random sampling of them. Officers should follow objective procedures that outline which drivers to stop at the DUI checkpoint. 

Brevity

Stopping at a sobriety roadblock is inherently inconvenient, but it should not be overly so. To ensure officers do not inappropriately inconvenience motorists, they should only detain drivers long enough to determine if they are under the influence of alcohol. 

Safety

Officers should notify approaching drivers of the roadblock. They may do so by erecting signage and providing a safe place for motorists to stop. While this place does not necessarily have to be off the road, officers should take steps to prevent motor vehicle accidents at the checkpoint location. 

Supervision

All drivers have a constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Ordinary patrol officers may lack the necessary knowledge to respect this right. Therefore, a supervising officer should be available to assist. 

If a roadblock lacks supervision or otherwise does not meet the requirements for a legal checkpoint, you may have grounds to challenge your DUI arrest.