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Sobriety Checkpoints

DUI Defense Attorney in Pittsburgh

Sobriety Checkpoints

Let's be clear at the outset: Sobriety checkpoints have almost nothing to do with preventing drunk driving or making DUI arrests. These law enforcement roadblocks have devolved into nothing more than easy overtime for officers and a public relations tool for departments looking to appear proactive.

Pittsburgh DUI defense lawyer Blaine Jones fights sobriety checkpoint arrests on behalf of clients in Allegheny County and the surrounding areas. The truth of the matter is that very few arrests are made at these checkpoints. For those few who do find themselves facing charges, there are even more viable avenues of defense than in a routine arrest for drunk driving.

Sobriety Checkpoints – Arrests and Your Rights in Pittsburgh

Cell phones, Facebook, Twitter and text messaging have killed whatever marginal value sobriety checkpoints may have once held as a law enforcement tool. You can even get smartphone apps that will alert you to the location of a law enforcement roadblock. But sobriety checkpoints create a spectacle for taxpayers and they pay overtime for the officers involved. So they remain a favorite with many agencies.

The courts have ruled such stops do not violate your Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure. But because they quite obviously do violate this most basic Constitutional right, strict rules and regulations have been put in place. Chief among them is that every vehicle must be treated the same. A checkpoint plan may require every third car be pulled over, for example, but the stops must be truly random. Stops should be brief, and those showing no sign of intoxication should be permitted to continue on their way.

Checkpoints must operate in accordance with a plan, which should be established with the oversight of a judge and the district attorney's office. Officers must understand civil rights and safety issues and the public should be advised of such checkpoints through the local media. Each of these points may be challenged. Probable cause for detaining a suspect for additional testing may also be challenged. The result is substantially less than 1 percent of all DUI arrests occur at checkpoints, though a typically operation costs taxpayers $10,000 or more.

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