Pennsylvania Sobriety Checkpoint
Pennsylvania often increases its sobriety or DUI checkpoints at certain points of each year. They do this during seasons when there tend to be more drivers on the road like summer. If you aren’t careful, you can easily get caught driving under the influence through any of these checkpoints. However, there are times when these checkpoints are considered invalid as some do not follow standard procedures.
If you want to challenge a DUI case, you’ll need a DUI attorney. Specialized DUI defense lawyers in Erie, like those from Panighetti Law, have swiftly and efficiently helped many clients with their cases. Here are some things you need to know about these sobriety checkpoints:
Sobriety Checkpoints Are Not Physical Searches
A sobriety or DUI checkpoint will have officers check your body’s alcohol levels through an analyzer. However, the police cannot start any searches of your car or person, even if they suspect anything, unless you provide them consent. If they do not get your approval but proceed with the search anyway, you can use that as leverage to fight your DUI case. There are even cases where you have the right to withhold evidence because of their actions.
There Must Be Warnings Before Sobriety Checkpoints
The police cannot set up a sobriety checkpoint without warning drivers beforehand. They cannot ambush or surprise drivers. Police officers must put up clear signs and markings that show they are holding a checkpoint. This gives drivers the means to avoid such areas.
There are many reasons why you’d want to avoid a police encounter — you may be pressed for time and in a rush or simply do not want any trouble. The police cannot pull you over because you avoided the checkpoint. They can only do so if you violated a different law.
Law Enforcement Cannot Single Out Any Driver or Location
Sobriety checkpoints have to be random. They cannot single out any one person and stop them for a sobriety check. If they do so, they are violating their orders, and it can invalidate the DUI case. They are not allowed to stop drivers at their discretion at these checkpoints.
Targeting a specific location or community defeats the point of the sobriety checkpoint. Cops cannot go to high-traffic areas and disrupt their flow. They must only choose a place because they believe there is a possibility of intoxicated drivers there.
If you find their location to be unusual, your lawyers can challenge it in court. There is a possibility to consider Erie DUI checkpoint arrests unlawful, leading to dropped charges.
Encounters at Sobriety Checkpoints Should Be Brief
The police cannot detain you at a sobriety checkpoint for an extended time. If they ask you to pull over and step out of the car, it may be a breach of conduct. If your lawyers prove this in court, then everything against you becomes inadmissible. Without any evidence, there is no solid foundation for prosecuting you with a DUI conviction.
You Are Not Obligated to Answer Any Questions
There are only four legal requirements during a sobriety checkpoint. You don’t have to answer any questions apart from that. The requirements are:
- Stating your name
- Showing your driver’s license
- Showing your vehicle’s registration
- Showing your vehicle’s insurance
The police officer may continue asking you questions, but they can hold your answers against you so be careful. They may even use your statements in court.
You Can Refuse a Field Test and a PBT
You have the right to refuse any kind of field test held by law enforcement. Many people are unaware that they have to submit for the police to have the right to conduct testing, in which they can use the test results against you. Refusal of any sobriety test is legal based on state law.
Before anyone can make an arrest, they’ll have to use a preliminary breath test (PBT). While you cannot refuse a breath test after an arrest, you can refuse a PBT before one. Pennsylvania law states that you have the right to refuse PBTs at a sobriety checkpoint. However, like field tests, people don’t know that they have this right.
If you submitted to a PBT and it produced results against you, your lawyer can still challenge it. For one, many PBTs aren’t accurate or reliable.
There Are Many Ways To Invalidate a DUI
Cops can avoid following regular procedures in many different ways. For instance, if they submitted an invalid breath sample or arrested you without cause, your lawyer can use that as a part of your defense. Even a failure to read your Miranda rights can be a cause to challenge the DUI. If there is a problem or anything was overlooked, your lawyer can utilize it to fight against the charge.
A DUI Conviction Is No Joke
A DUI can have consequences that can significantly alter your way of life. For example, you can get a criminal record that may hamper you from getting jobs or traveling to other countries. You can also get hefty fines or jail time if they pass that judgment on you. DUIs are serious, which is why you need a reliable Erie DUI attorney at your side.
Panighetti Law provides DUI defense that can help you against unlawful actions at a sobriety checkpoint. Our understanding of the law and your rights can help your chances against a DUI. We can challenge any tests or circumstances that can lead them to drop charges. Contact us today for an appointment and consult with one of our DUI attorneys.