Michael Thaler, Esq
I Got Charged With An OUI After Driving Through A Roadblock. Now What?
Occasionally, the State Police conducts a roadblock in conjunction with the local police department of the town or city in which the roadblock is located. Because the police interact with just about every vehicle that drives through the roadblock, the police have to follow strict guidelines for the roadblock and your specific arrest to be considered lawful. In general, roadblocks only occur at specific locations from approximately 11:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. on a Friday or Saturday night. The location has to be the site of a large amount of drunk driving arrests, so it is usually on a major road that has a parking lot adjacent to it in which traffic can be easily diverted for field sobriety testing. The police will err on the side of caution, sometimes even arresting people who have a breathalyzer reading of 0.06 or 0.07. After all, the police need to show that the roadblocks are effective in order to receive funding.
Drunk driving arrests from a roadblock are often very triable cases. This is because the first interaction with the police is when you roll down your window rather than whatever information gave rise to the police pulling you over. There is just less evidence for the Commonwealth to use at trial. However, before picking a trial date, it is important to speak to a lawyer experienced in roadblock cases. You might have a valid basis to file a motion to throw out the roadblock due to the police failing to strictly follow the guidelines required for a roadblock to be deemed constitutional. While there is rarely an issue with the roadblock itself, there is sometimes an issue with how the police directly interacted with you. For example, the initial officer that greets you on the roadway has a specific script to follow. He or she cannot ask you if you had anything to drink without first observing a sign of intoxication. These officers do not write police reports and sometimes they do not strictly follow the script. By the time your motion gets heard in court, the officer might not have a specific memory of his or her interaction with you. You should make sure to speak to a lawyer experienced in OUI cases arising from a roadblock so that all avenues are explored prior to selecting a trial date. If you do end up picking a trial date, then make sure that your lawyer is experienced in these kinds of cases to give you the best chance for a not guilty.