Each year, a number of people are arrested on suspicion of drunk driving in Pennsylvania, and throughout the U.S. The state’s Department of Transportation reports that more than 52,600 people were arrested on DUI charges in 2014 alone. For some, these arrests came after being stopped at DUI checkpoints. In order to ensure you are protected from an undeserved arrest, it behooves you to understand your rights when you are stopped at such checkpoints.
Typically, the first thing law enforcement agents do at such checkpoints is approach vehicles as they are stopped and question the drivers. Like others in this situation, you may feel obligated to answer the officers’ questions. However, doing so may incriminate yourself or give them cause to investigate further. At DUI checkpoints, you have a legal right to refuse to talk with law enforcement. Instead, you may choose to present them with a card indicating that you wish to exercise your constitutional rights.
If the authorities suspect you of driving under the influence, they may ask you to perform field sobriety tests. In the majority of cases, these tests are used to prove that you are intoxicated, not that you should be allowed to go on your way. Since these tests are potentially incriminating, it is important to understand that they are generally voluntary. Therefore, you do not have to perform them, even though law enforcement agents may neglect to inform you of your right to refuse. Not performing roadside tests will not guarantee, however, that you will not be arrested for suspected DUI.
Like many Pennsylvania motorists, you may be confused about your rights when it comes to chemical testing. Before you have been placed under arrest, you are generally able to refuse preliminary breath tests. However, once you have been taken into custody, refusing a breath test, or other chemical test, could result in additional penalties.
This post has provided an overview of your rights when stopped at DUI checkpoints. It is helpful to keep in mind, however, that each case is unique. As such, you should not take this as legal advice, and instead consider it only as general information.