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What happens at a DUI checkpoint in Pennsylvania?

It only takes a few small mistakes at the wheel to make motorists appear intoxicated to others. Police officers will pull anyone over if they notice swerving or other unusual behavior that they associate with chemical intoxication.

Motorists could also end up stopped and possibly arrested if they encounter a sobriety checkpoint. Police officers in Pennsylvania sometimes shut down sections of roads to actively screen everyone passing through for signs of a driving under the influence (DUI) infraction. Sobriety checkpoints are a popular and somewhat effective law enforcement tool, as they often cause a drop in DUI crashes the week after they occur.

Checkpoints lead to brief screening efforts

Every motorist that approaches a checkpoint will likely have to roll down their window and talk to a police officer. One of the reasons that sobriety checkpoints are legal in Pennsylvania and throughout most of the United States is that the relatively brief interaction involved does not automatically represent a hardship or an unwarranted detention of the motorist.

Although people may need to wait in line, the actual encounter with the police officer should be brief and non-invasive in most cases. Typically, only those that demonstrate noticeable impairments or answer an officer’s questions improperly will have to worry about additional screening and arrest.

Enhanced screening may lead to charges

Once officers have someone exit the flow of traffic for additional screening, that person’s risk of criminal charges is likely significantly elevated. Police officers may have someone perform field sobriety tests and submit to chemical breath testing as part of a checkpoint interaction and could potentially arrest someone who fails those tests. A single checkpoint could lead to dozens of arrests in one night.

Improper device calibration concerns and other mistakes by law enforcement professionals might help someone push back against a checkpoint arrest. Knowing what to expect when encountering DUI enforcement efforts on Pennsylvania roads can help motorists better navigate these risky situations. And seeking legal guidance can help those who have been arrested to craft the strongest possible defense in response to the charges they’re facing.


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