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Thanksgiving Eve DUI Checkpoints

It is no secret that the night before Thanksgiving is the unofficial “Biggest Party Night of the Year.”  This stems from nearly everyone having Thanksgiving Day off of work, old friends coming into town, and Thanksgiving dinner being the perfect hangover cure.  While you may be planning a bar hopping event, make sure to stay safe on the roads.  Always call a cab or arrange for a designated driver.  The police know this is a big party night as much as everyone else, and they will be out in full force.  DUI checkpoints will be set up across the state and the police will be cracking down on drinking and driving.

If you approach a DUI checkpoint, you are within your rights to make a legal U-turn to avoid the checkpoint.  Even if an officer sees you do this, his hunch that you are intoxicated is insufficient to pull you over.

If you are stopped at a DUI check point, know that the US Supreme Court has upheld DUI checkpoints as constitutional.  However, this does not mean that every checkpoint is legal.  The Superior Court of Pennsylvania has held that the stopping of an automobile and the detention of its occupants is a seizure subject to constitutional restraints under the United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions. Indeed, for a DUI checkpoint to be upheld as constitutional in Pennsylvania, there are a number of guidelines that the Police must adhere to.  These include following a specified procedure, conducting the checkpoint in a systematic way, and being non-discriminatory, and non-arbitrary in setting up the roadblocks.

Additionally, there have been a number of decisions reigning in police power in the area of DUI arrests.  For example, just this year the Pennsylvania Supreme Court handed down a decision prohibiting sheriffs and their deputies from independently running DUI checkpoints.  The Court held that while sheriffs have the power to arrest, they are not “police officers” and they do not have the independent power to conduct suspicionless DUI roadblocks.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI, you should consult an attorney as soon as possible.  The experienced DUI attorneys at the Law Offices of Justin J. Ketchel, LLC can determine if a DUI checkpoint is legal, and whether any evidence obtained from the checkpoint can be suppressed.  If you would like to speak to one of our experienced attorneys, you may contact us at 412-456-1221 for a free case evaluation.