Cooperative DUI Task Force Sobriety Checkpoints ‘On Hold’ Throughout Pennsylvania

| June 17, 2019

VENANGO CO., Pa. (EYT) – Many municipal police departments in Pennsylvania are putting a temporary hold on conducting cooperative sobriety checkpoints with officers from other municipalities due to a recent state Supreme Court ruling.

On May 31, the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court ruled that municipalities are required to enact ordinances, due to the state’s Intergovernmental Cooperation Act (ICA), in order for municipal officers to be permitted to participate in arrests that occur outside their own jurisdiction, other than in the case of an emergency.

The change affects many departments across the state that have previously utilized agreements through Pennsylvania’s Municipal Police Jurisdiction Act (MPJA) for staffing cooperative DUI task forces and sobriety checkpoints without having any approval from elected municipal officials – which the court rules did not meet the guidelines in the ICA.

“The ordinance of each municipal governing body must reflect its local control over the precise nature of the cooperation with the other municipalities, as it must include an agreement with regard to duration, purposes and objectives, financing and the organizational structure necessary to implement the cooperation agreement,” the court decision noted.

Locally, this will affect the Venango County DUI Task Force.

According to Chief Kevin Anundson, of the Franklin Police Department, who heads up the local task force, DUI Task Force checkpoints are currently “on hold” for the moment.

Chief Anundson told exploreVenango.com that locally, not only are multiple municipal police department involved in the task force, but the Venango County Sheriff’s Department and local court supervision officers also participate, as well.

“We always need people,” Anundson noted.

According to Anundson, in the meantime, local departments will focus on roving patrols in their own jurisdictions.

Initially, the issue with the task forces came to light following an appeal of a case against 34-year-old Molly Hlubin, of Buffalo, N.Y., on a drunk-driving conviction that stemmed from an arrest at a Robinson Township, Allegheny County checkpoint in 2013.

According to court documents, Hlubin’s blood-alcohol content measured about 0.15%, well above the legal limit; however, Hlubin was first questioned by Sergeant Douglas Ogden, who was, at that time, an officer with Moon Township Police.

The order handed down by the state Supreme Court noted that “because the task force in which Sergeant Ogden was participating was not authorized by a joint agreement compliant with the ICA, and because his actions were not authorized pursuant to an exception under MPJA, all evidence gathered at the sobriety checkpoint against Hlubin must be suppressed,” and Hlubin’s case was overturned.

Nevertheless, the state Supreme Court ruling does not eliminate sobriety checkpoints.

According to a published article in Triblive.com, the PA DUI Association advised local police departments that until further notice, they should focus enforcement efforts on roving patrols in which officers pull over cars driven by suspected drunken or drugged drivers in the municipalities where they work.

The PA DUI Association also urged the local police departments to continue conducting checkpoints as long as they used their own officers.

The association said departments could also reach out to local Pennsylvania State Police to see if they could offer troopers to help out with checkpoint operations when needed.


Copyright © 2019 EYT Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Any copying, redistribution or retransmission of the contents of this service without the express written consent of EYT Media Group, Inc. is expressly prohibited.

Category: Local News, News