A police officer in Pennsylvania has the right to pull you over if there is reasonable cause to do so. What if the stop is a part of a sobriety checkpoint? Do the same rights apply?
Your rights as a driver are no different at a checkpoint than at any other time when an officer pulls you over. Find out more about what makes a sobriety checkpoint legal and what your rights are.
What makes for a valid sobriety checkpoint?
In Pennsylvania, police officers can stop drivers when they have reasonable suspicion that the driver may be under the influence, including when stopped at a DUI or sobriety checkpoint. The location of the sobriety stop is crucial to ensuring the police are acting within the law. The roadway should have a history of DUI stops or accidents at that spot and time. The police department should provide advance warning of the checkpoint through social media or the local news. Sobriety checkpoints are especially common over holidays or holiday weekends throughout the year.
What do you have to do at a checkpoint?
A typical stop at a checkpoint is fast. During this brief time, you may have to give your name and your whereabouts. The police use this interaction to assess your breath and body language for signs of intoxication. Under the implied consent law, when an officer asks for your identification, you should proffer it.
What can you decline to do at a checkpoint?
The police should respect your rights. You have the right to protect yourself from making incriminating statements at a checkpoint and during any other interaction with law enforcement. If you do not want to interact with the police, you may politely tell them you assert your rights under the law and not answer questions or submit to testing. If they insist that you take a sobriety test, you may decline and ask for your attorney.
Your rights should remain preserved at a sobriety checkpoint. If you find yourself in a bad spot, remaining silent may prove a viable option.