The day before Thanksgiving has slowly become one of the biggest drinking days of the year.  In response the Lancaster City Police teamed with several other Police departments to conduct one of the biggest DUI checkpoints of the year.    

The checkpoints were held on Queen Street and on Orange Street 3 years ago, both located In Lancaster City. Ultimately 7 drivers were arrested for DUI, and 4 others were arrested for possession of drugs.  At The Shelton Firm we understand that serious legal consequences can evolve out of what police call “routine interactions” with the public.

Police typically use information collected during a sobriety checkpoint to establish Probable Cause to draw the drivers blood and check it for Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) or Drug Metabolites.   Your appearance, things you say, and what is in plain view in your vehicle can all contribute to whether a policeman has probable cause to draw your blood.  Police can also ask you to perform a Field Sobriety test.

Due to recent department efforts across the state to curb drunk and drugged driving, It is important to be aware of your rights when entering a DUI checkpoint.  So here is what you need to know.

The Supreme Court has stated that although DUI Checkpoints are the equivalent of suspicionless motor vehicle stops they are not on their face unconstitutional.  They must follow certain guidelines so they can be held to not violate the 4th Amendment.  These guidelines are, (1) The Police may only conduct a momentary stop of your vehicle, less than 30 seconds, and they cannot physically search the vehicle or its occupants. (2) The Roadblock must be visible so as to limit the surprise of the people approaching the stop, this can include signs around 500 Feet out, and also the check point should be announced in a local newspaper.  (3) Also the decision to hold a Road block requires prior administrative approval, by a high ranking member of the Department.  (4)  Also the police must show, in court, that the location, and time selected for the checkpoint is likely to be traveled by intoxicated drivers, using empirical, or historical evidence.  (5)  Additionally, the question of which vehicles to stop at the roadblock should be determined by a predetermined standard that does not leave the cars to be stopped up to the officers discretion.

Many people believe that DUI Checkpoints are only designed to stop Drunk Driving.  This would be incorrect.  The numbers for Drugged Driving arrests have been consistently on the rise.  State and Local police have been on the lookout for Drugged drivers and have received extensive training in the signs of drug impaired drivers.

On average more than 1,500 drivers are charged with DUI every year in Lancaster County.  Pennsylvania has one of the strictest regulations regarding Controlled Substance DUI Drivers, which contributes to the stiff increase.  In Pennsylvania a driver can be found guilty of DUI under the Drug portion of the statute even if only a small amount of metabolite is present in the blood.  Metabolite is what remains in your body after it has processed the drugs.  Depending on the drug this metabolite remains in your blood and can be found with a blood test.  In PA the amount of metabolite required to be DUI is so low that a driver who smokes Marijuana on the 1st day of the month can be found guilty of DUI on the 30th day of the month, if the police have Probable Cause to draw your blood.

Have you been arrested or charged with DUI?  Dont navigate the confusing criminal justice system alone. Call The Shelton Firm today at 717-823-0899.

At The Shelton Firm we offer legal services ranging from Criminal Defense, Personal Injury, Automobile Accidents, DUI, Divorce and Separation Issues, Expungements and Sealing of criminal records, and Traffic Ticket defense.   Our goal is to bring quality and affordable representation to the residents of Chester, York, and Lancaster County.