The way we celebrate the holidays can look quite different this year. However, one thing that remains the same is that police are especially focused on enforcing DUI laws in Pennsylvania this time of year.
Knowing what their efforts entail and what rights you have can be crucial if you want to protect yourself from a DUI charge ruining more than your holiday.
Types of increased enforcement tactics
In this state, there are generally two different types of ramped-up enforcement tactics:
- DUI checkpoints
- Heightened pressure for officers to stop impaired drivers
Checkpoints are designed to briefly stop motorists so officers can determine whether there are possible signs of intoxication.
These checkpoints must comply with strict state regulations. Among these regulations are requirements that they are well-marked and provide ample advance notice to drivers. Further, police must use objective grounds to make a stop.
Traffic stops may be more frequent, with police more motivated to get drunk drivers off the road. However, these efforts could leap to sloppy police work, skipping over procedures and pulling people over without probable cause.
How to use this information
Based on this information, you can better understand your rights and plan accordingly.
If you come upon a checkpoint, you have the right to turn around and avoid it, so long as you don’t violate other traffic laws or draw suspicion by making a sudden change of direction.
If you go through a checkpoint, know that police cannot conduct an unlawful search of your car or detain you unreasonably long. The same rules apply to an isolated traffic stop.
Should a police officer pull you over and conduct roadside sobriety tests, there are specific rules for administering these tests with which police must comply. Failing to do so can result in a wrongful arrest and charges.
Of course, the easiest way to avoid a DUI is to refrain from drinking before driving. And knowing that police presence can be exceptionally high in the coming weeks can allow you to adjust your plans and steer clear of any interactions with police.
However, people make mistakes and misjudge their impairment; thus, DUI stops can still happen. Knowing your rights and the tools you have to protect yourself can allow you to keep a criminal charge from ruining the holidays, your criminal record and your future.