May 11

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Are Pittsburgh DUI Checkpoints Constitutional?

pittsburgh dui checkpointsPittsburgh DUI checkpoints are a Constitutional Exception

Traffic stops, including Pittsburgh DUI checkpoints made by the police that are not based upon probable cause or reasonable suspicion, as a general rule, are unconstitutional. A checkpoint stop, by its nature, is a traffic stop that is not based upon probable cause or reasonable suspicion. However, the courts have carved out an exception to the general rule that permit the operation of Pittsburgh DUI checkpoints so long as they are set up and operated in accordance with court imposed specific guidelines.

Whether or not any particular checkpoint is constitutional depends on whether it has been set up and operated in accordance with these guidelines. The North Hills DUI Task Force recently conducted checkpoint operations in Shaler, Etna, O’Hara, Indiana and West Deer. It was the 17th year of operation for the task force. One would assume that by now the Pittsburgh DUI checkpoints set up by the task force would be legal. That assumption may not be correct.

Our Firm’s Personal Experience with Pittsburgh DUI Checkpoints

Our firm represented an individual who was stopped at one of the Pittsburgh DUI checkpoints operated by the North Hills Task Force and was charged with a DUI. Prior to trial we obtained a court order that forced the Task Force to allow us to review the records it relied on to make key decisions about the set up and operation of the checkpoint. Those records help us prove that the checkpoint was not set up and operated in accordance with the regulations. As a result, the trial court found that the stop of our client was unconstitutional. The evidence was suppressed and the charges were dismissed.

The case against our client was dismissed and, as to him, the checkpoint was unconstitutional. However, cases against other drivers stopped at that checkpoint were not dismissed because they failed to challenge the legality of the checkpoint. They were convicted, pled guilty, or entered the ARD program based upon evidence against them that was illegally obtained by the North Hills DUI Task Force.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.pacriminallaw.com/pittsburgh-dui-checkpoints-constitutional/