DUI checkpoints are conducted by law enforcement to check for intoxicated drivers. Checkpoints are common along our roads and highways, and many drivers eventually end up stuck in a checkpoint line. The police might ask you to submit to certain kinds of testing, and there could be penalties if you refuse.
If the police stop you at a DUI checkpoint, they might ask you to perform a couple of tests. Some tests, like a preliminary breath test or field sobriety tests, can be refused. If you are arrested for a DUI, you are legally required to submit to official chemical testing. Refusal may lead to additional penalties.
If you were stopped at a DUI checkpoint and refused to submit to testing, you might be in trouble. Our Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys can help you prove you had every right to refuse. Call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 for help. We can offer a free initial case evaluation to get you started.
What Tests Are Given at DUI Checkpoints in Pennsylvania?
In an ordinary DUI stop, the police need reasonable suspicion that you are intoxicated to pull you over. Erratic driving, such as weaving between lanes, may suffice. Alternatively, they can stop you for a different violation first – like running a stop sign – before shifting to a DUI investigation if they suspect you are drunk. At a checkpoint, all drivers who pass through a certain location can be stopped and checked, regardless of reasonable suspicion or probable cause.
Normally, if the police do not see any signs of intoxication, drivers are allowed to pass through relatively quickly. They might only ask you a few questions and for your license and registration. If the police notice signs of intoxication, like slurred speech or an odor of alcohol, they may investigate further and ask you to perform some tests.
Field sobriety tests can be refused in most cases. These tests may include physical exercises of your fine motor skills. Common tests include standing on one leg, a walk-and-turn test, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, which tests your eye movement. The police might attempt to pressure you into these tests, but you may not be punished for refusal.
Preliminary breath testing (PBT) can also be refused. PBTs can be performed along the side of the road with a small, portable breath testing device. These tests are also known as portable breath tests. While the police can ask you to submit to the test, you are within your rights to refuse.
This is different from official chemical testing, which occurs after being arrested for a DUI. Official chemical testing may also be a breath test, but the equipment used for testing is often larger and more accurate. This testing may alternatively involve a blood test. Official chemical testing is legally required, and you may not refuse under 75 Pa.C.S. § 1547. Refusal may be met with legal penalties. Our Philadelphia DUI defense lawyers can help you fight these penalties.
What Happens If I Refuse the Test at a Pennsylvania DUI Checkpoint?
There might be different consequences for refusing to submit to different tests at a DUI checkpoint in Pennsylvania. For PBTs and field sobriety tests, you should not be charged or otherwise penalized for refusal. You are within your rights to refuse these tests. If you believe you have been unjustly charged or punished for refusing to submit to these tests at a DUI checkpoint, our Pennsylvania DUI defense attorneys can help.
Refusing to submit to official chemical testing may be punished with additional charges and penalties. Under the law, you will face criminal charges in addition to those for your alleged DUI. Refusal to submit to official chemical testing may lead to the automatic suspension of your driver’s license. In addition, you may face criminal charges in addition to your DUI charges. These charges are not necessarily connected, so you could be found guilty of refusal and not guilty of the DUI.
You may be criminally charged under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3824(c). For a first offense, you could potentially face at least 72 hours in jail, a fine of at least $1,000 and up to $5,000, and requirements to attend highway safety school and undergo drug and alcohol treatment. For a second, you face at least 90 days in jail, a fine of at least $1,500, highway safety school, and drug and alcohol treatment. A subsequent offense may lead to incarceration for no less than 1 year, a fine of no less than $2,500, highway safety school, and drug and alcohol treatment.
However, there are certain rules the police must follow when asking you to submit to chemical testing. Typically, they must advise you of the consequences of refusing. Our Bucks County criminal defense attorneys can help you challenge your charges if the police failed to warn you.
Will I Be Charged with a DUI for Refusing the Test at a DUI Checkpoint in Pennsylvania?
You should not be charged or penalized if you refused testing like PBTs or field sobriety tests. However, the police rarely enjoy hearing the word “no.” Petty retaliation from the police is not unheard of, and the officer in your case might want to make things difficult for you after you refuse. It is important to talk with our Pennsylvania DUI defense lawyers in such cases. Your DUI charges could be based more on your assertion of your rights rather than probable cause or evidence.
Even if you refused to submit to official chemical testing, your DUI charges are separate. While you certainly can be charged with refusal and a DUI, the two do not always go hand-in-hand. If you refused to submit to chemical testing, but you believe there is little to no evidence supporting your DUI charges, we can help you fight those charges.
Contact Our Pennsylvania DUI Defense Lawyers
DUI charges can be difficult to deal with when testing refusal is involved. However, you should not be punished for asserting your right to refuse when applicable. Call our Delaware County criminal defense attorneys for help with your case. Call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 for a free case review.