Convictions for driving under the influence come with harsh penalties. One way that law enforcement officials arrest drunk drivers is by setting up sobriety checkpoints. But if the police conduct these checkpoints improperly, the drivers they bring charges against may not need to face any criminal consequences at all.
According to the York Daily Record, this is what is happening right now in Pennsylvania. On May 31, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that, in most instances, local governments must adopt ordinances if they want to conduct sobriety checkpoints with cops from different jurisdictions. The decision comes after an examination of a case of a woman from Buffalo, New York who was arrested for DUI in Robinson Township in 2013. A police officer from Moon Township stopped her but did not have the proper authority because there was not an agreement between the local governments. According to the justices, any evidence against this driver must be dismissed.
Some other active DUI cases may be thrown out because of this court opinion. It is not known how many will be affected at this time.
This ruling is affecting how law enforcement will conduct checkpoints and roving patrols. It seems that, for now, police officers will conduct roving patrols within their own assigned areas. Plus, the Pennsylvania State Police may start playing a larger role in DUI checkpoints. Pennsylvania State Police officers have the authority to enforce laws across the state and are not bound by the court decision.
Those who face DUI charges may find it helpful to contact a criminal defense attorney to understand how their case may get reduced or dismissed.