DUI Checkpoints in PA: Know Your Rights

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Jan 29, 2024 | 0 Comments

DUI Checkpoints are a common tool used by Pennsylvania law enforcement to address impaired driving. DUI checkpoints, also called roadblocks or sobriety checkpoints, are controversial for many people. The idea that law enforcement can stop and question a person without probable cause strikes many people as unfair and dangerous. This concern over the potential abuse of individual rights at DUI checkpoints has led courts to put strict limits on the use of these checkpoints.

If you have been charged with DUI after a checkpoint or roadblock stop in Pennsylvania, call the LLF Law Firm at 888-535-3686, or submit your details online, and we will contact you. The LLF Law Firm Team will vigorously defend your rights and work for the best outcome possible.

Are DUI Checkpoints Legal?

The short answer is “yes,” but these checkpoints must follow a rigid set of rules in order to be legal. In Pennsylvania, two Supreme Court decisions, the Tarbert and Blouse decisions, set forth the requirements for DUI checkpoints:

  1. The stop must be brief and not involve a search.
  2. The time, date, and location of the checkpoint must be announced to the public in advance.
  3. The checkpoint must be in an area with a history of DUI stops.
  4. Law enforcement must have a consistent method for determining which vehicles to question. For instance, every third vehicle. The police cannot select motorists at a DUI checkpoint. If they do, the entire process is unconstitutional.
  5. The checkpoint location must be selected and approved by the administration and not by field officers.

All this is designed to limit the use of a DUI checkpoint by a field officer to target a particular car or individual.

Do I Have to Submit to a Field Sobriety Test or Breathalyzer?

Law enforcement at the checkpoint may ask to see the license, registration, and proof of insurance. If law enforcement has reason to believe that the driver is impaired, they may ask the driver if they are willing to do a field sobriety test. Pennsylvania has an implied consent law which covers chemical tests, like a breathalyzer, and blood or urine testing. Under this law, you can lose your driver's license if you refuse chemical testing. However field sobriety tests are not covered under implied consent law. You might wish to comply with the field sobriety test, as these tests are important in determining whether you will be charged. On the other hand, if you have concerns about balance because of a health condition, it may make sense to decline a field sobriety test.

The State Has the Burden to Show Legality of Checkpoint

If you are charged with DUI after a checkpoint stop, remember that the law places the burden on law enforcement to show that the checkpoint was legal under PA law. It is imperative that you have experienced counsel who understands how to challenge the legality of a checkpoint DUI.

LLF Law Firm Can Help

At the LLF Law Firm, we understand the immense impact that a DUI conviction can have on an individual. We can build an effective defense strategy in order to protect your life and reputation. If you or a loved one is facing DUI charges, contact the LLF Law Firm Criminal Defense Team at 888-535-3686, or submit your details online, and we will contact you.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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