The weather forecast for the Fourth of July calls for high temperatures and mostly clear skies through the weekend, which means people will take full advantage of backyard BBQs and fireworks. This Independence Day, get-togethers commonly include more food than anyone can eat and a good deal of beer, wine, and cocktails.

Due to the increase in people imbibing over the weekend, the Philadelphia police plan to increase DUI checkpoints and patrols to ensure safe roads. If you were arrested at a DUI checkpoint, contact the Philadelphia DUI defense attorneys of Fienman Defense at (215) 839-9529 to learn your rights.

What to Expect

You should anticipate additional police patrols and random checkpoints from July 3 through July 5. This may back up traffic a bit in popular areas, so be prepared for delays as you head to and from work or family and friend’s homes.

Boaters should be aware that police will look for drunk drivers on the Delaware River as well. The person in charge of the vessel needs to remain sober.

Your Rights at a DUI Checkpoint

The police can set up checkpoints where they can speak with drivers to determine if there are any signs of drunk driving, however, an officer must have probable cause before stopping you. It is illegal to drive – or boat – with a blood alcohol content level of 0.08 percent, though you do not have to blow .08 on a breathalyzer to be charged with DUI.

The police have the right to stop you, but that doesn’t mean you have no rights in this situation. The law requires police to follow certain procedures in order for the stops to be constitutional. For a stop to be considered constitutional, the police must “substantially comply” with the guidelines. Keep in mind although a police officer may be able to stop you at a checkpoint, they may not search your vehicle unless there is probable cause to do so.

Stay aware of your rights when encountering a DUI checkpoint:

  • Visible: When the police set up a stop, it must be visible to warn drivers of what they are approaching. You have the right to detour away from the roadblock if you can legally do so. You can turn down another street a block ahead but you can’t make an illegal U-turn.
  • Systematic: The police must have a plan for how they will stop cars before the checkpoint begins. For instance, they can stop every other or every third car. They can’t stop cars at random because this leads to discrimination.
  • Brief: If the police stop you, they need to make the interaction relatively quick. They can ask you a few questions to determine if there are signs of drinking, like smell or slurred speech. They can’t keep you so long that it becomes an unreasonable seizure. This timing may seem vague, so if you believe you were unlawfully detained, you should speak with the attorneys at Fienman Defense.
  • Breath tests: The police can’t simply give everyone they stop a breathalyzer test. They must have reasonable suspicion that a driver has been drinking to administer a breath test.
  • Searches: Sobriety stops don’t automatically include a physical search of your car. However, if the police have probable cause of a crime being committed at the time of the stop, they can search your vehicle without a warrant.

A Philadelphia DUI Defense Attorney Can Help

Even when you know you haven’t been drinking, a DUI checkpoint can make you nervous. Approach the stop calmly and speak clearly with the officer. In most cases, the stop will be quick and you’ll be on your way. But if for some reason the police officer suspects you’ve been drinking and arrests you for a DUI, contact the Philadelphia DUI attorneys of Fienman Defense at (215) 839-9529 right away. An attorney will work to have the charges dropped or prove your innocence in court.

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