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DUI Checkpoints in Pittsburgh

DUI CheckPoints – Pittsburgh, PA

What are they? Where are they? And what happens if I get stopped at a DUI Checkpoint?

pittsburgh dui checkpointsThe holidays are here again – time for people to get together, celebrate and drink their cares away! It’s the time for merriment, although holidays can also be stressful.

One added stressor is that festivities could turn into a nightmare if you are pulled over for DUI, or worse, in an accident with a drunk driver. There are few greater buzz kills than a DUI arrest or car accident with injuries.

Most people don’t have to worry if they do not plan to drink and drive. But even a couple of beers can be the cause of a DUI charge, especially if you happen to pass through a DUI checkpoint while coming back from the company holiday party, restaurant, or a family gathering.

A DUI checkpoint is a roadblock that allows police to systematically pull over cars to deter driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

DUI checkpoints are perfectly legal and constitutional in Pennsylvania and if a person is charged with DUI from being pulled over at a DUI checkpoint, it can be very difficult (although not impossible) to prove innocence or fight the charges.

Where are DUI Checkpoints in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County?

In order for a DUI Checkpoint to be constitutional in Pennsylvania, the police are required by law to give adequate warning of a checkpoint. This could mean putting up signs and advertising in the media or newspaper.

Once the location has been advertised, the police cannot move the location without again giving the public notice.

A few common places for a DUI checkpoint in Allegheny County include: near the South Side or the Strip District, off the exit for the Sewickley bridge, or near Etna on Route 8.

There are also mapping apps, like Waze and Relaid, where users can pin DUI checkpoints and label them, so you can also see possible roadblocks and DUI checkpoints, as well as traffic updates.

If you see signs for a DUI ahead, you do have the option to turn off before you reach it. Purposely avoiding a DUI checkpoint is not a reason to pull you over, however, making a U-turn in the middle of the street could be a traffic violation.

What Typically Happens at a DUI Checkpoint? 

Unlike being pulled over on suspicion of DUI – like swerving, speeding, or recklessness – the police do not need reasonable suspicion to pull someone over at a DUI checkpoint.

That said, they do not pull over cars at random either – they have strict guidelines to follow, such as stopping every fifth vehicle. These rules are decided upon ahead of time and cannot be changed during the course of the checkpoint. This is to enforce that they cannot stop on a whim by race, religion, sex, vehicle type, or if they simply don’t like the way someone looks.

Of the vehicles they do pull over, they are free to question the drivers or ask them to take a sobriety test as they enter through the roadblock.

The stops are supposed to be minimal and non-invasive. The police do not have a right to a physical search without probable cause.

They may start by asking simple questions such as where you were tonight, where you are headed now and if you had anything to drink. Any of your answers could be used in court as probable cause.

Law enforcement officers look for common behavioral signs of impairment at a DUI Checkpoint, such as:

  • The smell of alcohol;
  • A rosy-colored or flushed face;
  • Eyes that may be bloodshot, watery, or too relaxed;
  • Slurred speech;
  • Aggressive or defensive behavior;
  • Fatigue or slowness;
  • Clumsiness;
  • Dilated pupils, and;
  • Excessive sweating.

If after noticing any of these types of behaviors, the police believe you may be under the influence, they could ask you to perform a field sobriety test or request a breathalyzer.

You are not required by law to comply with the field sobriety test or the breathalyzer that an officer may have on hand before an arrest.

If you refuse the breathalyzer, however, this may give them probable cause to arrest you, take you to the police station, and require a blood or breath test that is used as evidence. This test can determine your blood alcohol level and whether you are under the influence of drugs. Of course, you do not have to comply with this test either, but if you don’t, it is an automatic license suspension, and, if convicted, you face the most severe penalties of DUI under the highest tier, including a $5,000 fine and jail time.

Can I Get Charged with Drugs at a DUI Checkpoint? 

Yes.

The DUI stop is meant to be brief and non-invasive, but if police officers find probable cause that you may be under the influence of drugs, they may conduct a physical search. They may also place you under arrest and request you take a blood test.

If officers can smell marijuana or weed in your vehicle, they are not permitted to conduct a search from the smell of marijuana alone. However, if other suspected behavior is evident to police officers, they may still legally conduct a search when they also smell marijuana.

Remember, even if you are a medical marijuana card holder in Pennsylvania, it is still illegal for you to drive under the influence of marijuana. And if you are asked to take a blood test, your results could show you have cannabis in your system, even if you were not smoking at the time of driving. This is a contradiction, but as it currently stands, you could be charged with DUI drugs if you are found to have marijuana in your system, even trace amounts.

Best ways to avoid a DUI arrest?

Don’t drink and drive! Don’t do drugs and drive either! An Uber ride costs a lot less than a DUI conviction.

If you do happen to do drugs, make sure you get free fentanyl test strips – the test strips are now legal in Pennsylvania to help combat unintended deaths by overdose.

🎄🕎The attorneys at Ketchel Law hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season. Please use a ride share, cab, or designated driver when enjoying the festivities! 🎄🕎

PA Law Gives Immunity to People Who Help a Friend During a Drug Overdose

If your friend or loved one has overdosed on drugs and you assist them in getting help, you can not be criminally charged, even if you were also using drugs (under most circumstances). This immunity also applies to anyone on probation or parole.

Pennsylvania Drug Immunity Law—Good Samaritan and OverdoseThis law is often referred to as the Pennsylvania Good Samaritan Overdose Immunity Law.

Under Pennsylvania law, Act 139 SB 1164, passed in 2014, allows anyone who helps a person who is overdosing on drugs to obtain immunity from prosecution in the following circumstances:

  • The person transported the person who was overdosing to a hospital or medical facility, to a law enforcement agency, or to a campus security office, and:
    1. The person dialed 911 or called emergency services to report the person was overdosing on drugs and was in need of immediate medical attention in order to prevent death or serious bodily injury;
    2. The person cooperated with the EMTs or emergency service providers;
    3. The person gives their name and locations; and,
    4. The person stayed with the person needing medical attention until emergency services arrived.

In addition, the law also states that the person who overdosed on drugs also cannot be criminally charged, if the person who assisted them qualifies for immunity under the above circumstances. Both will remain immune from prosecution.

The law is limited in that it does NOT apply if the following events have occurred:

  • Law enforcement learned of the drug overdose independently;
  • Drug delivery or Possession with Intent to Deliver;
  • Drug delivery resulting in death or drug-induced homicide, and;
  • Any other crime that may have occurred around the overdose event.

If you are with a friend or loved one who is experiencing an overdose from drugs, do not be afraid to call 911 or to seek medical attention or help from law enforcement agencies.

If you were charged with a drug crime, or your loved one was charged with a drug crime, contact our criminal drug lawyers in Pittsburgh, PA. We can help you understand your charges, prepare a strong and aggressive defense and try to get your charges reduced or dismissed.

PENNSYLVANIA DRUG CRIME LAWYERS

KETCHEL LAW 

CALL 412-456-1221 FOR A FREE LEGAL CASE EVALUATION

If you have been charged with a drug crime in Pennsylvania, contact Ketchel Law today. Our number one goal is to have your charges dismissed and your record clean.

_____________________

FREE LEGAL CONSULTATION

We offer free legal consultations to anyone charged with a crime. Call us today to find out how we can help defend your rights.

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Drug Court—Allegheny County

The Allegheny County Drug Court Program is specifically designed for individuals with substance abuse issues that are involved in the criminal justice system and/or have been charged with drug possession.

The goal of the Allegheny County Drug Court Program is to place individuals who are facing drug charges or have been convicted of drug charges into an intensive drug treatment program as an alternative to jail to aid in their recovery from drug addiction and help them maintain clean and sober lifestyles.

Referral & Eligibility into the Allegheny County Drug Court Program

Drug Court candidates are identified by the District Attorney’s office or may be referred by their defense attorney (to the District Attorney’s office) for consideration into the program.

CALL JUSTIN KETCHEL FOR FREE CONSULTATION TO
DISCUSS REFERRAL TO DRUG COURT AS ALTERNATIVE TO JAIL

*** Our goal is to avoid jail for our clients. Call Ketchel Law Today.***

CALL 412-456-1221 FOR A FREE CONSULTATION

The client must be a level 3 or level 4 offender, meaning they have prior criminal records. This is often the case when an individual has multiple drug offense convictions. A high prior record score can often translate to jail time.

As an alternative to jail, the Allegheny County Drug Court offers a treatment based approach. An additional requirement for Drug Court is that the client cannot be currently charged with a crime of violence nor can they have a conviction of such crimes within the past ten (10) years. An ideal candidate for Drug Court has a history of drug related convictions and is currently facing a non-violent drug related offense.

If an individual is identified as a potential Drug Court candidate by the District Attorney’s office, the initial offer is made at or around the time of the pre-trial conference.

If a client is interested in entering the program, they must be interviewed by a Drug Court Case Manager in order to receive a Pennsylvania Client Placement Criteria (“PCPC”) drug and alcohol evaluation. At such time, a Service Plan is developed for the client that identifies the level of care required and specific treatment facility recommendations.

Compliance with the treatment plan is a condition of their sentence and failure to comply could result in removal from the program and being sent to prison instead. Additionally, the client must be interviewed by the Intermediate Punishment Screeners to determine whether they are eligible for IPP (House Arrest/Home confinement).

As an alternative to jail, house arrest may be factored into the sentence following any necessary treatment.

Learn more about the treatment program at the website for the Allegheny County Drug Court Program.

*** Our goal is to avoid jail for our clients. Call Ketchel Law Today.***

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT DRUG COURT OR DISCUSS ANY OTHER CRIMINAL MATTER, CALL JUSTIN KETCHEL FOR FREE CONSULTATION—412-561-1221

It is important that you do not delay in finding a drug defense lawyer in Pittsburgh—call Justin J. Ketchel today for a free consultation.

Learn More About Drug Charges in Pennsylvania:

Posting Bail in Allegheny County, PA

Do you or a loved one have a bail hearing in Allegheny County?

You are probably wondering about your rights and the process of posting bail.

“Bail” is the process the court undertakes to determine if an individual criminally charged can or should be released pending the disposition of their case.  Bail also determines the conditions, if any, that may be required for successful compliance with pre-trial release.

Black’s Law Dictionary defines bail as “[t]he process by which a person is released from custody either on the undertaking of a surety or on his or her own recognizance.”

When considering an individual’s pre-trial release, several options exist to the presiding magistrate or judge:

  1. Release on her own recognizance (“ROR” or “OR”)
  2. Release on non-financial conditions that require pre-trial monitoring of the individual (e.g., Non-Monetary Release to Electronic Home Monitoring/Drug Treatment)
  3. Monetary bail—secured by property, cash, or surety that must be posted prior to release
  4. Unsecured bail—treated much like a civil contract to secure appearance
  5. Ordering the individual be held without bail

When determining the monetary amount and/or type of bail established in a particular case, the court should consider many different factors.  The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Pa. R. Crim. P. 523 is consistent with the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and summarizes the below significant factors:

(A) To determine whether to release a defendant, and what conditions, if any, to impose, the bail authority shall consider all available information as that information is relevant to the defendant’s appearance or nonappearance at subsequent proceedings, or compliance or noncompliance with the conditions of the bail bond, including information about:

  1. The nature of the offense charged and any mitigating or aggravating factors that may bear upon the likelihood of conviction and possible penalty;
  2. The defendant’s employment status and history, and financial condition;
  3. The nature of the defendant’s family relationships;
  4. The length and nature of the defendant’s residence in the community, and any past residences;
  5. The defendant’s age, character, reputation, mental condition, and whether addicted to alcohol or drugs;
  6. If the defendant has previously been released on bail, whether he or she appeared as required and complied with the conditions of the bail bond;
  7. Whether the defendant has any record of flight to avoid arrest or prosecution, or of escape or attempted escape;
  8. The defendant’s prior criminal record;
  9. Any use of false identification; and
  10. Any other factors relevant to whether the defendant will appear as required and comply with the conditions of the bail bond.

When Bail Can Be Addressed

Bail can be addressed at numerous points in the criminal process, starting at the preliminary arraignment up and until the date of trial.  The following is a list of the phases at which time bail can be addressed:

  • The Preliminary Arraignment.  When bail is initially established by the presiding Magisterial District Court Judge.
  • The Preliminary Hearing.  Up and until the charges are held for court, the magisterial district court in which the case is ‘born’ has jurisdiction over bail/bond issues.  Jurisdiction of such matters may be transferred by motion prior to the disposition of the preliminary hearing.
  • The Pre-Trial Phase.  All Motions for Modification of Bail/Bond are to be filed generally and heard before the Motions Court Judge, regardless of whether the case has been assigned a trial court judge and/or has a trial date.  Historically, the exceptions to filing a Motion for Modification of Bail/Bond before the Motions Court Judge are few and as follows: 1.) If the charge is Criminal Homicide, and 2.) If the Trial Court Judge has previously revoked the client’s bail (e.g. for failing to appear on a previous trial date, failing a drug test, etc.).
  • The Trial Date.  Upon oral motion on the date of trial before the trial judge assigned to the case.

If you have questions about posting bail, modifying bail conditions, or requesting a bail hearing, contact a Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney.

 

If you have been charged with a crime in Pennsylvania, contact Ketchel Law today.

Our number one goal is to have your charges dismissed and your record clean.

_____________________

FREE LEGAL CONSULTATION

We offer free legal consultations to anyone charged with a crime. Call us today to find out how we can help defend your rights.

Learn more about Ketchel Law:

DUI Court—Allegheny County (Part II)

Five Phases of DUI Court in Allegheny County

The following information is part II of a two-part segment concerning DUI Court in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.  DUI Court is a specialty court of the Fifth Judicial District of Pennsylvania, Allegheny County specifically designed to address multiple DUI arrests.  If an individual has been arrested for a third (3rd) DUI and/or has multiple DUI arrests, this program may be an avenue to consider.

Please visit part one of this topic for a general overview of Allegheny County’s DUI Court Program.

For a free consultation of your DUI case, contact a Pittsburgh DUI Lawyer.

Five (5) Phases of the Allegheny County DUI Court Program:

*Components of phases, including the length of each phase, may be subject to change based on the participant’s particular needs, severity of chemical dependence, relapse and evolving concerns and/or problems.  Additionally, an individual may only move to the next phase upon agreement of the DUI Court Team (See DUI Court—Allegheny County (Part I).  Below is an outline of the five (5) phases of the DUI Court Program in Allegheny County, PA and what to expect during each phase up and until the point of graduation.

DUI Court – Phase 1:

Approximately 4 months

  • Intensive supervision on electronic home monitoring (“EHM”) (18 months / 90 days of alcohol bracelet monitoring)
    • Windows are available for work, school and treatment
  • Attend progress hearings (1-2 x per month)
  • Weekly contact with supervising probation officer (home & office visits)
  • Attend drug and/or alcohol treatment sessions
  • Attend a minimum of three (3) Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings per week
  • Submit to random weekly drug/alcohol testing
  • Secure full-time employment (or part-time if attending school)
  • Begin to make monthly payments on restitution, costs, fines and/or fees

DUI Court – Phase 2:

Approximately 4 months

  • EHM windows for select social outings will be permitted
  • Attend progress hearings (1-2 x per month)
  • Weekly contact with supervising probation officer
  • Attend drug and/or alcohol treatment sessions
  • Three (3) Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings per week
  • Random weekly drug/alcohol testing
  • Maintain employment
  • Continue to make monthly payments on restitution, costs, fines and/or fees

DUI Court – Phase 3:

Approximately 4 months

  • Electronic supervision is less restrictive (curfew imposed—you are free to come and go)
  • Attend progress hearings (1-2 x per month)
  • Bi-weekly contact with supervising probation officer
  • Continue to attend drug and/or alcohol treatment/aftercare
  • Two (2) Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings per week
  • Random bi-weekly drug/alcohol testing
  • Maintain employment
  • Continue to pay restitution, costs, fines and/or fees

DUI Court – Phase 4:

1 year mark

  • Removal from EHM and begin intensive probation (6 months)
    • Curfew at 11:00 p.m. through 7:00 a.m. (unless work related or permission from supervising probation officer)
  • Attend progress hearings (1-2 x per month)
  • Bi-weekly contact with supervising probation officer
    • Random calls from P.O. (If missed, could be a violation)
  • Attend drug and/or alcohol aftercare program as directed
  • Two (2) Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings per week
  • Random bi-weekly drug/alcohol testing
  • Maintain employment
  • Continue with payments

DUI Court – Phase 5:

Approximately 6 months

  • Curfew lifted!
  • Attend progress hearings (1-2 x per month)
  • Contact with supervising probation officer one time per month
  • One (1) Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meeting per week
  • Random monthly drug/alcohol testing
  • Maintain employment
  • Continue with payments

DUI Court Graduation Requirements:

At approximately the 2 year mark

  • Successful completion of all recommended treatment
  • Minimum of 12 months drug and alcohol free
  • Completion of all phases
  • Maintain gainful, consistent employment or involvement in a vocation/academic training program
  • Sustain a living environment that is conducive to maintaining a clean and sober lifestyle

For a free consultation of your DUI case, contact a Pittsburgh DUI Lawyer.