Your Rights at Roadblock Stops
There is nothing pleasant about a roadblock stop. Even if you’ve done nothing to result in arrest, the experience of a roadblock can prove stressful. When setting up a checkpoint, police must follow certain guidelines and when arriving at a checkpoint, there are specific rights and responsibilities that you possess as the driver of a vehicle.
Fourth Amendment Protections
The Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution protects citizens from unreasonable search and seizure. These rights extend to traffic checkpoints. As such, roadblock stops do not provide law enforcement with an unlimited right to search your car or detain you without sufficient probable cause. The actual stop must remain brief in nature, only lasting long enough to check driving credentials and ascertain whether the driver is impaired. This may include observance of bloodshot eyes or slurred speech.
Any decision to search must follow standard procedural guidelines and involve a reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing. If no reasonable suspicion is found, the officer must allow you to immediately leave.
The Right to Avoid
Law enforcement officers must give drivers sufficient warning about the impending roadblock check. If you are able to safely and lawfully avoid the checkpoint by changing your path, you are allowed to do so under the law. This is rarely an option though, as law enforcement often places these roadblocks in areas where there is no legal opportunity to change direction after notification.
No Officer Discretion
Law enforcement officers cannot exercise discretion in deciding which vehicles to stop. There must be a predetermined mathematical pattern to determine which cars are stopped for officer communication. For example, law enforcement may determine that every fourth car will get stopped. These guidelines are put in place to prevent discriminatory intentions when deciding which drivers to stop. If you are stopped out of order, it is still advisable to cooperate, but you should provide this information to our criminal defense attorney should any charges result from the stop.
Choosing Time & Place
Decisions about where to place the sobriety checkpoint and at what time of day must be based on prior evidence about when and where intoxicated drivers frequently drive. This is also done to prevent discriminatory practices. If you believe that a checkpoint was placed in an improper location, or at an improper time, notify your criminal defense attorney.
Contact a DUI Attorney
If you are facing charges that stem from a traffic roadblock stop, contact a knowledgeable attorney with vast experience in Pennsylvania traffic law. Randy H. Kaplan Law Offices can provide you with the representation you need to present a successful defense.