The Philadelphia DUI Law Blog

Driving Through a Checkpoint with a Beer? One Way to Get a DUI

Some people have all the fun. Who can forget Anderson Sotomayor, who was still driving after 5 DUIs that included accidents involving a school bus and a police cruiser? Now there are some folks trying to outdo even the infamous Sotomayor.

Over the weekend, David Caruso (not of CSI fame) was arrested after police at a sobriety checkpoint noticed that he was drinking a beer while stopped at the checkpoint, according to the Hartford Courant. Not only was Caruso drinking a beer, but he was also driving with a suspended license from an earlier DUI, reports the Vernon Patch.

Looks like Caruso may have a few things coming.

DUI checkpoints are not new to Philadelphia or most of the country. There are actually services that will tell you where checkpoints will be, for a price. Usually these checkpoints are set up during holiday weekends or other known drinking seasons (St. Patrick's Day, anyone?).

Once you're in a checkpoint, officers have the chance to determine whether you should be fully stopped and tested for DUI. The officers check for things like the smell of alcohol or bloodshot eyes and slurred speech to determine if they need to use the Breathalyzer or field sobriety tests.

If you are literally holding a beer, you will be given sobriety tests. Of course, if you are foolish enough to drive around on a suspended license drinking a beer, you probably aren't going to consider that there might be a DUI checkpoint. Nor would you think to get rid of it upon seeing a checkpoint.

Besides the normal open container and other charges, if Caruso does eventually face a DUI charge, it could be a felony DUI because of his earlier conviction. Many states have harsher penalties for repeat offenders. In Pennsylvania, a first offense can be punished without even a license suspension. However, if you are a repeat offender, there is a minimum of a year suspension.

So next time you're thinking of taking a road soda with you, remember that driving through a checkpoint with a beer is most likely going to land you with some harsh fines, a license suspension, and potentially jail time.

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