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DUI Checkpoints in Pennsylvania

In the past, there was a great deal of controversy regarding the constitutionality of DUI checkpoints.  Opponents argued that they are an unreasonable search that can occur in the absence of reasonable suspicion and that police utilize them arbitrarily.  Proponents argue they are valuable tools in fighting drunk driving that allow police to target specific problem areas and that police can administer them in a way that does not violate a driver’s constitutional rights.

Nevertheless, DUI checkpoints are legal and often utilized in Pennsylvania.  But concern for their impact on the constitutional rights of Pennsylvania drivers led our courts to place a number of restrictions upon police in the use and execution of DUI checkpoints.  When police fail to honor these restrictions, they may violate the constitutional rights of Pennsylvania drivers.

The decision to set up a DUI roadblock must occur within the administration of a police department.  Individual beat officers cannot make this decision.  Additionally, there must be reason to believe that drunk drivers will be present in the area before administrators can approve a roadblock.  Once they establish the roadblock, participating officers must keep stops brief and follow a fixed method for determining which cars to stop.

A seasoned criminal defense attorney can review the circumstances of an arrest to determine if there was a violation of constitutional rights.  If a violation did occur, this can provide significant advantage and may, in some cases, lead to an acquittal or dismissal of charges.

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