With Memorial Day weekend coming up (or recently past, depending on when you read this), police departments throughout Pennsylvania are announcing that they will be setting up DUI checkpoints across the commonwealth. After the last 15 months or so, law enforcement may be expecting to make more DUI arrests than they have in a long time.
DUI checkpoint rules that the police must follow
The idea of police officers stopping vehicles without any reasonable suspicion that the driver is committing a crime is controversial. Still, DUI checkpoints are legal in Pennsylvania — as long as the police follow the rules. Those rules include:
- The stop must be brief and not involve a physical search
- There must be a sufficient warning to drivers that they are approaching the checkpoint
- The checkpoint must have prior administrative approval
- The time and place the checkpoint is located must be based on local experience about where people are likely to drink and drive
- The choice of which vehicles the officers will stop must be based on pre-determined, objective and random standards, not the officers’ discretion
Your rights at a DUI checkpoint are the same as if an officer pulled you over. You have the right to decline to submit to field sobriety tests or a preliminary breath test. And you do not have to answer any questions other than providing your name, driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance upon request. Be polite but firm in your responses.
However, you may still get arrested and charged with drinking and driving. But if the officers violated your rights at any point during your checkpoint stop, you may be able to get some or all of the evidence thrown out of court.