Memorial Day weekend is a time to celebrate – not only do we honor those who gave their lives in the military, but people also take this long weekend to gather together and celebrate the unofficial start of summer. Camping trips, barbecues, and other parties are all traditional ways to spend time with our family and friends over Memorial Day weekend.
These celebrations often provide a good time to sit back and relax with a cold beer or another type of alcoholic beverage. Law enforcement agencies know all too well that many people like to have some drinks over the holiday weekend and then get behind the wheel of a car. For this reason, police throughout the State of Pennsylvania – and most places you may travel – ramp up enforcement of DUI over Memorial Day weekend. Last year, state troopers in Pennsylvania arrested 550 people on suspicion of driving under the influence over the long weekend.
There are different ways that police officers target drivers who may be impaired. First, agencies often use saturation patrols, which involve increased numbers of police in a specific area considered to be a high risk for drunk driving. This allows more officers to pull over more drivers at once.
One major issue with saturation patrols is that officers may be so anxious to catch a drunk driver that they pull people over unlawfully. Every person has the 4th Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure. For this reason, officers must have reasonable suspicion that a driver has violated a law in order to pull them over. Without reasonable suspicion, a traffic stop is illegal, as it violates a driver’s constitutional rights. In many saturation patrols, officers are focused on looking for any indication of drunk driving and may pull someone over simply because the driver is leaving a bar or nightclub late at night – even if they have not violated any law. It is important to have an experienced DUI lawyer examine the reason cited for the traffic stop in every DUI case.
Officers may also set up DUI checkpoints, which block a roadway and require all traffic to pass through the checkpoint. There are specific requirements for DUI checkpoints to be legal and not constitute a 4th Amendment violation. First, officers may not pull over drivers in a manner that is discriminatory or involves racial profiling. Instead, they must stop every car or stop cars according to a certain pattern, such as every three or four cars. If officers arrest someone at an unlawful DUI checkpoint, a skilled defense attorney can argue that the case should be thrown out.
If you are arrested for DUI over Memorial Day weekend or any other time, your first call should be to an experienced Pennsylvania DUI defense law firm. Skinner Law Firm represents clients facing DUI charges and many other types of criminal cases. Please call our office at 610-436-1410 or feel free to contact us online to learn more about how former prosecutor Michael J. Skinner can help you.