Diligent. Dedicated. Prepared.

What can drivers do when there’s a DUI checkpoint ahead?

Drivers in Pennsylvania can get arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) offenses in a variety of scenarios. Often, poor driving plays a role in someone’s arrest. They either draw the attention of a police officer with unusual conduct or because of a crash.

However, some people get swept up in mass enforcement efforts. Police officers out hunting for drunk drivers may attempt to screen as many people as possible over just a few hours. They do this by establishing DUI roadblocks or sobriety checkpoints. They effectively shut down a point on the road and interact with each driver who proceeds through the checkpoint.

What options do drivers have when they approach sobriety checkpoints?

Rerouting or turning around

For many drivers, the simplest solution to a checkpoint is to avoid it. Even if someone does not fear that they broke the law, they may worry about the inconvenience of a checkpoint stop. The more vehicles there are waiting in line, the longer it may take to proceed through the checkpoint.

Motorists can potentially take any legal and safe steps necessary to avoid a checkpoint. They can turn at a nearby intersection. They can even conduct u-turns, as state law only prohibits them when there is signage posted or the maneuver is obviously unsafe. Drivers often make the decision to actively avoid checkpoints, but doing so might draw the attention of other officers patrolling nearby who may conduct a one-on-one traffic stop.

Asserting their rights at the checkpoint

The rules about sobriety checkpoints place clear limitations on police officers. They should make every reasonable effort to minimize how inconvenient the checkpoint is for the average driver. They can only engage in basic screening unless they have probable cause to suspect impairment.

Drivers don’t necessarily have to agree to perform field sobriety tests or answer any probing questions. They need to provide identification and other relevant documents. However, they can assert their rights at a checkpoint by refusing to answer certain questions or perform actions that might implicate them. Even if someone does get arrested at a DUI roadblock, they may still be ways to avoid a conviction.

Motorists who know their rights and their options when they spot a roadblock ahead can reduce their risk of facing DUI charges. With that said, defending assertively against DUI charges is an option for anyone arrested at a drunk driving checkpoint.


FindLaw Network
Super Lawyers
The National Trial Lawyers | Top 100 Trial Lawyers