With the holiday season just around the corner, police departments across Pennsylvania will increase their patrols for drunk drivers. Many will have DUI checkpoints over the next several weeks, hoping to stop drunk drivers before they cause an accident and hurt someone else. That’s because the U.S. National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse reports that 40% of traffic deaths between Christmas and New Year’s involve drunk drivers. Also, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is a popular night for guests visiting family to frequent local bars, and Thanksgiving weekend is the most traveled holiday period.
However, if you approach a DUI checkpoint this holiday season, are you allowed to turn away and avoid it?
The laws regarding DUI checkpoints
In Pennsylvania, drivers can turn around and avoid DUI checkpoints – as long as they do so safely. Often, drivers question if DUI checkpoints are legal in the first place. Don’t they violate drivers’ 4th Amendment Rights: the right to avoid unreasonable search or seizure? In 1990, the Supreme Court ruled that DUI checkpoints are legal and valid tool for law enforcement.
If you go through a DUI checkpoint, officers are supposed to stop every vehicle. Their stops, which technically are seizures, are minimally intrusive. Police departments also need to publicize where they conduct DUI checkpoints beforehand.
Facing DUI charges after a checkpoint stop
If you face DUI charges after stopping at DUI checkpoint, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney can review your case to determine how your DUI charges could be reduced or dismissed. DUI convictions come with fines, jail time and sometimes license suspension. You want to do what you can to avoid getting a DUI conviction and keep your criminal record clean.