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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JOSEPH D. TARBERT (12/06/85)

filed: December 6, 1985.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
JOSEPH D. TARBERT, APPELLANT



APPEAL FROM THE JUDGMENT OF SENTENCE OCTOBER 1, 1984 IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF YORK COUNTY, CRIMINAL NO. 1621 C.A. 1983.

COUNSEL

William H. Poole, Jr., York, for appellant.

Thomas L. Kearney, Assistant District Attorney, York, for Com., appellee.

Wickersham, Cirillo and Johnson, JJ. Wickersham, J., files a dissenting opinion.

Author: Cirillo

[ 348 Pa. Super. Page 308]

This is an appeal from the judgment of sentence entered by the Court of Common Pleas of York County. Appellant, Joseph D. Tarbert, was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. Following a trial by jury, appellant was convicted of the charged crime. Timely post-verdict motions were filed and denied. Tarbert was sentenced to thirty days to twelve months imprisonment, a $500.00 fine, and to pay the costs of prosecution. We reverse.

In the early morning hours of July 30, 1983, the York Township Police Department established a roadblock on a county road, at which all vehicles proceeding in each direction were stopped. The operators of the stopped vehicles were asked to produce their licenses and owner's cards. The officers involved in the operation made a physical examination of each automobile to determine whether any inspection violations were present. Each motorist was carefully observed to ascertain whether he was under the influence of alcohol.

Tarbert's van was stopped at the roadblock site. The officer who stopped appellant testified that he noticed the odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle. As a result, several field sobriety tests were administered, and appellant was placed under arrest. A subsequent breathalyzer test resulted in a .12 reading. Appellant filed a pre-trial suppression motion based upon a lack of probable cause to stop his vehicle. The motion was denied.

We are asked to pass upon the constitutionality of police roadblocks, which, without probable cause or a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been or is being committed, stop

[ 348 Pa. Super. Page 309]

    all vehicles travelling on a public highway for the purposes of checking licenses, registrations, inspection violations, and for drivers operating vehicles under the influence of alcohol.

I

ADEQUATE AND INDEPENDENT STATE GROUNDS

Initially, we are compelled to note that our decision today is based entirely upon the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Any reliance on federal cases is only for the purpose of guidance, with these cases not compelling the result reached. Michigan v. Long, 463 U.S. 1032, 1041, 103 S.Ct. 3469, 3476, 77 L.Ed.2d 1201 (1983). We intend to clearly and expressly indicate that our decision rests "on bona fide, separate, adequate, and independent [state] grounds . . ." Id.

II

A. CONSTITUTIONAL ...


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