Sobriety Checkpoints show up more often around the holiday season.
Sobriety Checkpoints are nothing more than roadblocks put up by police to prevent drunk driving. Any individual coming home from a bar on a Friday or Saturday night is probably familiar with these. The police set up a road block and stop each car. They look for an odor of alcohol, slurred speech, and glassy, bloodshot eyes. Drivers that exhibit these signs of intoxication are asked to move their car to a side area where they are given field sobriety tests. What most people are not familiar with are the laws that police are required to follow in setting up and executing these checkpoints. If you were arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) at one of these checkpoints and the police did not follow the proper protocol, it is possible to challenge your case successfully.
Technically speaking, any sobriety checkpoint violates rights under the Fourth Amendment. It is considered an improper seizure. However, the Supreme Court of PA has decided that the possibility of increased safe roads outweighs the intrusion as long as it is not too great. The Court will conduct a balancing test and the checkpoint must meet the following criteria:
- The vehicle stops must be brief and cannot include a physical search of the driver or passenger.
- Drivers arriving at a checkpoint must have sufficient warning of the existence of the checkpoint and given a chance to legally turn around.
- The decision to have a checkpoint, as well as the time and place, must be made with administrative approval. This means by the District Attorney and/or the Court.
- The time and place of the checkpoint must be based on experience as to where intoxicated drivers are most likely to travel.
- 5.The decision as to which vehicles to stop must be made by an administrative official based on objective standards, and not determined by the officer at the scene.
- Outside of these five criterion, checkpoints must be part of an ongoing safe-driving campaign. Also, the police should advise the public through local media of the checkpoints, although they are not required to give the exact location. Finally, the primary purpose of the checkpoint must be to prevent drunk driving, not investigate other crimes or arrest drunk drivers.
If you have been pulled over at a Sobriety Checkpoint and given a DUI charge, we can help. We know exactly what to look for and which defenses to present.
At Morrow & Artim, we offer a no cost, no obligation review of your DUI or criminal law matter via a short telephone consult or an email reply. If both you and our firm agree that legal representation is required, an in-office appointment will be scheduled.Call Morrow & Artim today at 412-823-8003 to obtain the legal help that you deserve.