As October is rapidly turning into November, the holiday season is approaching quickly. This is a time where millions upon millions of people travel to be with their families to celebrate various holidays including Thanksgiving and Christmas. While these holidays are often joyous occasions, many people in Pennsylvania encounter DUI checkpoints after leaving holiday celebrations. In many cases these individuals are intoxicated and get charged with a DUI while at these checkpoints. It is important that you and your family understand what exactly DUI checkpoints are and what you are required to do when in one.
DUI Checkpoints: What Are They?
In Pennsylvania a DUI checkpoint is a well-marked, stationary roadblock where police officers are allowed, by law, to make brief suspicionless stops to determine whether or not the driver is intoxicated. While a driver is permitted to avoid a checkpoint, if the police have reasonable suspicion that the driver is intoxicated and that is the reason for the avoidance, then the officer(s) may stop the vehicle and evaluate the driver’s sobriety. If the police determine you are intoxicated, they can arrest and charge you with a DUI.
Are DUI Checkpoints Legal?
There is an ongoing argument within the legal field as to whether or not DUI checkpoints intrudes upon a driver’s constitutional rights. In Pennsylvania, a DUI checkpoint will be constitutionally lawful if it meets these requirements:
- The location of the DUI checkpoint is based on a history of drunk driving incidents.
- Police have given advance notice to the public that the DUI checkpoint exists (Date, Time, Location)
- The car stops must be brief and no search of the vehicle or the passengers is permitted
- The car stops must be based on an objective police administration standard and not one that the officers make up while at the checkpoint.
Important Tips for this Holiday Season
As you and your loved ones head into the holiday season it is essential that you NEVER drink and drive. There are countless cases in the state of Pennsylvania where individuals who feel they “are able to drive” or “don’t even feel drunk” get behind the wheel of a car and are stopped at a checkpoint and get charged with a DUI. Here are a few suggestions to consider when going out to a family gathering this holiday season:
- Have a designated driver determined before leaving the house for the evening.
- Consider using transportation such as Uber or Lyft
- See if it is possible to stay over your relative’s/friend’s house for the night and head home in the morning
- Take public transportation to and from the event you are at
- Keep track of the alcohol you consume (it can be very easy to forget how much you actually drank throughout the night)
- Best option- Don’t drink at all
I Thought I was Okay to Drive, Now I Have a DUI.
If you or a loved one this holiday season is stopped at a checkpoint and charged with a DUI, The Law Office of Vincent J. Caputo is ready to help you through this process. We understand that this charge can often be difficult for the individual involved and that is why we will work with you every step of the way in achieving the best outcome possible.