This coming weekend, thousands of people in Pennsylvania and elsewhere will be ringing in the New Year. Many will travel from party to party, enjoying festive foods and imbibing holiday beverages, such as eggnog or punch. Such beverages often include alcohol. During the holidays, police like to increase their presence on the road and often set up DUI checkpoints to deter drunk driving.
Under the Pennsylvania and U.S. Constitutions, DUI checkpoints are lawful if police fulfill certain requirements. As with any traffic stop, a driver has certain legal rights when police officers have set up a sobriety roadblock. There are several things to keep in mind to avoid legal problems.
Never attempt a U-turn at a DUI checkpoint
Many people try to avoid a DUI checkpoint by trying to take an alternative route before reaching the roadblock. This is a bad idea for several reasons. Trying to abruptly change course may raise suspicion among the officers who are conducting the checkpoint. Also, U-turns are illegal in many places, which could result in an individual traffic stop and citation.
Do not answer personal questions or consent to a search
A Pennsylvania driver does not have to answer questions at a DUI checkpoint other than confirming identity if asked to do so by a police officer. If an officer asks where an individual has been or if he or she has consumed alcohol, a driver may invoke the right to remain silent under the protection of the Fifth Amendment. A driver also is not required to consent to a vehicle search. If a DUI arrest takes place, it is best to seek immediate legal support.