HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling is impacting how law enforcement will keep roads safe from drunk drivers this Fourth of July weekend.
The ruling also could get some pending DUI cases thrown out.
The ruling says municipalities need to have formal agreements in order to hold sobriety checkpoints together. The issue is many law enforcement agencies already conduct the checkpoints without the agreements.
“If those sobriety checkpoints were conducted with officers from multiple jurisdictions, and the arrest was made from the officer that was from or outside their primary jurisdiction, and there was no agreement from that municipality, those cases could be jeopardized,” said Dave Andrascik, the drug recognition expert program coordinator at the Pennsylvania DUI Association.
Lebanon County says it intends to prosecute all pending DUIs and will review challenges case by case.
Dauphin County says it only had one checkpoint that would be affected. It’s figuring out what to do.
York County says it’s “processing this decision and will act in accordance with its dictates, and will advise law enforcement accordingly.”
Lancaster County says checkpoints are off for the time being. Officials are working on a remedy.
Meanwhile, legislators are working on possible fixes, including a bill currently in the House.
“As long as the request came from one municipality to another requesting their assistance to help with the sobriety checkpoint, then it would be covered under the new law,” said Andrascik.
The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association says it’s working on getting information to guide individual counties. In a statement, it said, “the full extent of the impact on prior cases remains to be seen.”
Even with the confusion, the DUI association says law enforcement will still be out in full force keeping the roads safe.
“Those areas where there is a reduction in sobriety checkpoint operations, there is still going to be significant roving patrol enforcement looking for the impaired drivers,” Andrascik said.
This ruling does not impact state troopers because they have authority across the entire state.