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Are sobriety checkpoints legal in Pennsylvania?

On Behalf of | Feb 2, 2022 | drunk driving |

In Pennsylvania, as in most states, sobriety checkpoints are legal. Law enforcement can use a roadblock to stop your vehicle and check if you are driving under the influence. However, they must follow certain rules when planning and conducting the checkpoint.

Here is what you need to know about the legality of DUI checkpoints.

When are sobriety checkpoints legal?

DUI checkpoints should be well-marked and fixed. Police administration, not officers themselves, must establish a predetermined set of objective and random measures for officers to use to decide who to stop. Additionally, checkpoints need to meet the following guidelines:

  • The stop should be brief
  • Police cannot perform a physical search of your vehicle or property
  • The administration must use knowledge of where DUIs are likely to occur to determine the location of the roadblock
  • There should be sufficient warning of the stop

Can police pull you over for avoiding a checkpoint?

In Pennsylvania, evading a sobriety checkpoint does not create reasonable suspicion that you are driving under the influence, and police cannot pull you over for doing so. However, if you make an illegal turn or otherwise fail to follow traffic laws in order to avoid a roadblock, law enforcement may stop you for a traffic offense.

Can you refuse a breath test?

You can refuse a pre-arrest field sobriety test. However, if police officers arrest you for driving under the influence, you will have to submit to a blood-alcohol test or risk losing your license.

A DUI offense carries significant penalties. If you believe that law enforcement performed an illegal stop at a sobriety checkpoint, you may be able to avoid the worst of these consequences.