DUI Checkpoints or Roadblocks?

Fed up with the oppression of English colonial rule, our founding fathers fought to create a nation based on freedom, equality and liberty.  They found the concept of liberty to be so important, that the founding fathers created the Bill of Rights which details the rights of the citizens of our country.  The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects us from unwarranted search and seizure:

Are Pennsylvania DUI Checkpoints an Affront on Your Civil Liberties?
Are Pennsylvania DUI Checkpoints an Affront on Your Civil Liberties?

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

This means that police cannot search you or your property without probable cause that a crime was committed.  However, The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of DUI “checkpoints” under the premise that the privacy intrusion committed is “minimal” and that the purpose of the checkpoint is to reduce DUI. The SCOTUS maintains that this “minimal” intrusion outweighs a person’s right to be left alone, and is rationally related to a legitimate government interest of preventing DUI.

However, in City of Indianapolis v. Edmond, the SCOTUS presented with the same type of rational decided that it was unconstitutional to set up a “checkpoint” for general drug detection and deterrence. Many think this distinction is arbitrary and perhaps even hypocritical. Nevertheless, it is the law of this land.

In reality, the intrusion is not brief and is far from minimal.  They are not checkpoints at all because they are really literally blocking the road stopping people along their lawful way.  DUI roadblocks are a blatant affront on our privacy and liberties. These roadblocks put innocent, law abiding citizens in and intense, investigative situation with the police for no legitimate reason regardless of their own lawful actions.  Also if you calculate the time from when you enter the roadblock-induced traffic jam to when you are free to go, it is a lengthy and time consuming ordeal.

Also the purpose of these roadblocks isn’t even to reduce DUI.  Anytime you read the statistics from a DUI checkpoint, you will find that police issued far more non-DUI violations than DUI violations.  DUI checkpoints are a huge money maker for police departments. (See Policing for Profit)

When you look at the facts, the cute sobriety checkpoints are really full-blown, unconstitutional “prove you are not a criminal” roadblocks.

Justin McShane

PA DUI attorney Justin J. McShane is the President/CEO of The McShane Firm, LLC - Pennsylvania's top criminal law and DUI law firm. He is the highest rated DUI attorney in PA as rated by Avvo.com. Justin McShane is a double Board certified attorney. He is the first and so far the only Pennsylvania attorney to achieve American Bar Association recognized board certification in DUI defense from the National College for DUI Defense, Inc. He is also a Board Certified Criminal Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Approved Agency.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *