Law Offices of Michael Steven Sherman, P.C.

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Sobriety Checkpoints Declared Illegal!


June 26, 2019

Every week I talk with people who just got arrested for DUI. People are scared of the legal process and they are scared of what impact the outcome of the case with have on their life. Often, these potential new clients have talked with other lawyers who have promised them the sun, the moon, and the stars. Typically, these lawyers who make all kinds of false promises have a reputation for just that – big talk but no action. They throw in the towel without even trying to improve the client’s position.

We never give up!

At Mike Sherman Law, we never rest until we get justice for our clients. We keep fighting, even if that means we have to take the case to the Supreme Court. That’s exactly what we did when we challenged the legality of multi-jurisdictional sobriety checkpoints.

On May 31, 2019, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in favor of our client. It was a 6 year battle. We lost twice before the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, but we never gave up! The Supreme Court ruled that multi-jurisdictional sobriety checkpoints are illegal unless certain rules are followed.

Our case involved the West Hills DUI Task Force. The DUI task force is a group of 16 different police departments who joined together to conduct sobriety checkpoints. Our client was stopped on Steubenville Pike in Robinson Township during a sobriety checkpoint. The officer who stopped her worked for Moon Township. She was then handed over to Robinson Township officers who claimed that she failed the field sobriety testing. Based on the results of blood testing, our client was charged with both a violation of the DUI law dealing with general impairment as well as an additional charge for being over the legal limit.

We filed a pre-trial suppression motion seeking to suppress all of the evidence obtained during the traffic stop at the sobriety checkpoint. We argued that the officer conducting the stop was not authorized to participate in sobriety checkpoints located in a municipality outside of his primary jurisdiction. In Pennsylvania, absent some crime “in progress” scenario, police officers are restricted to doing police work only within the jurisdiction where they are employed.

The Supreme Court agreed with us that the stop was illegal. The Court ruled that the Intergovernmental Cooperation Act (ICA) requires each municipality to pass an ordinance in order to participate in the checkpoint. None of the municipalities involved passed an ordinance so the sobriety checkpoint was deemed illegal.Fcheck

The prosecution tried to argue that the Municipal Police Jurisdiction Act (MPJA) allows police officers to leave their respective jurisdictions for the purpose of rendering “aid” to other police departments. The Supreme Court distinguished this case from a case where a “crime in progress” is taking place. In this case, the police departments banded together for an event scheduled to take place in the future. That cannot be done without passing an ordinance.

Sobriety checkpoint cases are different from situations that deal with a “crime in progress.” The typical “crime in progress” scenario involves a “hot pursuit” of a bank robber or burglar who has just committed a crime. In “crime in progress” situations, the police can make an arrest outside of their primary jurisdiction. But the Municipal Police Jurisdiction Act does not permit police officers to work on a sobriety checkpoint.

This case highlights something we at Mike Sherman Law try to stress to all people who call our office seeking our representation: no case is a lost cause. In this case, our client’s blood alcohol level was above the legal limit. That didn’t stop us from protecting her rights. We didn’t stop because we lost before the Superior Court. We did everything we had to in order to make sure our client got her day in court. We left no stone unturned and our client prevailed. No case is a lost cause. If you were stopped and arrested after driving through a sobriety checkpoint, call us today for a FREE case review.

If you have been charged with DUI, take action now!

If you have been charged with a DUI, you need to get the right attorney. A DUI can severely impact the rest of your life. When the stakes are high, get the experienced attorney who isn’t afraid to fight for you. Call former Pennsylvania State Police attorney Mike Sherman right now. Mike wrote the book on Pennsylvania DUI law.

Why Mike Sherman?

  • Mike Sherman is a former attorney for the Pennsylvania State Police. He knows both sides of the law and uses that knowledge to benefit his clients.
  • Mike Sherman wrote “the” Pennsylvania textbook on Pennsylvania DUI law, Driving Under the Influence Law and Practice.
  • He has advanced scientific training on the chemistry of drugs and alcohol and can challenge mistakes that the government may make in their evidence.
  • His knowledge of science and case law is widely respected throughout Pennsylvania. He often speaks at conferences and seminars to teach other attorneys how to handle these cases.

Talk to a DUI Lawyer Today

If you are facing a serious DUI charge, don’t delay. Call now to set up your free consultation with a DUI attorney who has over 31 years experience. Call 412-471-5000. Our phone is answered 24 hours a day.

Mike Sherman is a DUI lawyer you can trust.

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