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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.

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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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Pittsburgh Protests and Arrests

Arrests in Pittsburgh Protests for George Floyd

 

In Pittsburgh, and across the world, people are gathering to rally in response to the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, who died while in police custody.

Last week former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

People are calling for the additional three offers involved in his arrest to also be arrested and charged.

While the protesters are peaceful in nature and the protests took place as a show of solidarity, looting and rioting from fringe groups during the protests led to arrests and damage to property.

During the protests in Pittsburgh and East Liberty, dozens of people were arrested for various alleged crimes, many were injured, and many people found themselves behind bars following the protests.

For the most part, the protest in East Liberty was calm, with over 1,000 people peacefully marching and chanting, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Still, certain individuals were charged with inciting violence against police.

What Happens When Charged with a Crime During a Protest?

If you were charged with a summary offense, disorderly conduct, a property crime, resisting arrest or any other charge related to the protests in Pittsburgh, you should speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Criminal charges during a protest may seem harmless, especially if you feel you are fighting for a good cause.

But criminal charges can also lead to a criminal record, which can deeply impact your ability to obtain loans for school or a vehicle, find a job, rent an apartment and many other normal activities that people without a criminal record have the freedom to pursue.

An arrest is not a conviction.

It is important to remember that being arrested and/or charged does not mean that you are guilty or will be convicted.

A fierce and determined criminal attorney can make a big difference in the outcome of your case.

In the wake of the recent rallies and protest across the area, you may find yourself in need of representation to resolve legal issues. Please contact Ketchel Law for a free consultation.

Our attorneys are here to help you fight your charges and win back your freedom.

OUR NUMBER ONE GOAL: GETTING YOUR CRIMINAL CHARGES DISMISSED.

CALL KETCHEL LAW TODAY: 412-456-1221 FOR A FREE CONSULTATION

If you or someone you know finds themselves in legal trouble as a result of the protests, please call our law office for consultation and allow us to help get your life back to normal.

_______________

FREE LEGAL CONSULTATION

Call us today—412-456-1221 – to find out how we can help defend your rights.

Learn more about Ketchel Law:

CALL KETCHEL LAW TODAY: 412-456-1221 FOR A FREE CONSULTATION

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.

 

 

 

Pittsburgh Police Intensify Efforts to Make DUI Arrests on Holidays

This upcoming weekend, numerous people will travel to visit their family for Easter or will have family coming to visit them. There usually are family members that you have not seen in a while, and you may want to catch up with them over a drink at a local bar or restaurant. Additionally, if you are from out of town, you probably want to meet up with some of your friends who live in the area.

It’s great to get together with family and friends, but be extra careful. During holidays when you are merely looking to relax and catch-up with those who are closest to you, the police are aggressively making DUI arrests. Often, the police will position themselves near local bars and restaurants, and they only need minimal evidence that you have committed a traffic violation to justify stopping your vehicle.

Don’t think that because you only had one drink that you will be fine. In Pennsylvania, to be charged with a per se violation, your BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) has to be above .08%. However, the police can also charge you with a DUI for General Impairment, regardless of what your BAC is. If you are pulled over for a minor traffic infraction and the officer smells even the faintest odor of alcohol, you can, and most likely will, be charged with a DUI.

Even if you have never been arrested before, a general impairment conviction will result in having a misdemeanor on your record, mandatory probation, a mandatory fine, a drug and alcohol assessment and full compliance with any recommended drug or alcohol treatment. If your BAC is above .08%, the situation you are facing is much worse. If convicted you are facing mandatory time in jail and a mandatory suspension of your license.

I hope that you have a safe and happy time with your friends and family, but if you are charged with a DUI, do not delay in contacting me at 412.456.1221. My office specializes in DUI representation and everything possible will be done to have your charges dismissed.