What Are My Rights at a Sobriety Checkpoint in Pittsburgh?

police lights

Seeing flashing red and blue lights, especially while behind the wheel of a vehicle, is seldom a pleasant experience, as often, it means a ticket in the near future. That said, let’s say you had a night out with friends, consumed a few drinks, and though you felt fine enough to drive, you know in the back of your mind that technically, you likely made the wrong decision. You’re almost home, when suddenly, you notice you’re approaching a sobriety checkpoint. At this moment, it is paramount that you understand your rights. Please continue reading and reach out to a seasoned Allegheny County DUI lawyer to learn more about what your rights are and how our legal team can help if you’ve been charged with a crime. Here are some of the questions you may have:

What are my rights at a sobriety checkpoint in Pennsylvania?

The first thing you should understand is that law enforcement (likely) will not immediately ask you to take a breathalyzer or field sobriety test at a DUI checkpoint. In most cases, the officer will simply ask if you’ve been drinking. In most cases, saying “no” and not exhibiting any sort of behavior that may cause an officer to become suspicious (e.g. slurring words, smelling like alcohol, etc.) should be sufficient, and you will be sent on your way. That said, what if the officer presses you further? Or what if you notice the DUI checkpoint and have time to turn around? Should you? Some things to keep in mind regarding DUI checkpoints are as follows:

  • If you pull up to a DUI checkpoint, you are required to stop. You cannot simply ignore the police officer and keep driving.
  • Once you are stopped, you are required to provide your license and registration. Refusing to do so or making an issue of the stop will not work in your favor.
  • If you can lawfully and safely make a U-turn before a checkpoint, you are free to do so, but you should keep in mind that this will get law enforcement’s attention and likely make them suspicious. At this point, they may pull you over and question you more aggressively than they would if you were to simply stop at the checkpoint.
  • Police are not required to read Miranda rights at a DUI checkpoint.
  • Police cannot search your car (under the 4th Amendment) unless the officer sees illegal items in plain view, such as a bag of drugs or an open container of alcohol on the passenger seat.

Can I refuse to take a breathalyzer test or submit to a blood draw request?

Technically, you can, but it is never advisable to do so. If you refuse chemical testing, you will likely be arrested by law enforcement for Driving Under the Influence and may be charged with the highest BAC range. Further, under Pennsylvania’s “implied consent” law your driver’s license will be suspended for 12 months (on a first offense) in addition to any suspension you may receive for the DUI.

If you’ve been charged with a DUI or chemical test refusal, it is paramount that you retain the services of a knowledgeable attorney at once. We can analyze your case, determine whether your rights were violated at the DUI checkpoint, and, from there, form a strategy and fight for the best possible outcome on your behalf. Contact the Law Offices of George Heym today to schedule your initial consultation with our firm.

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