sem_acquire() is blocking, meaning that subsequent calls with the same semaphore will block indefinitely until the semaphore is released. This ensures serialization, but it is not very practical if all you want to do is check if you should proceed or not. Unfortunately, PHP does not yet support any method of querying the state of a semaphore in a non-blocking manner.
It may seem possible to put together such a mechanism by hand, using shared memory (shm_ functions). However, be warned that it is not trivial and ultimately non-productive. You cannot, for example, simply pick a shared mem var, store the semaphore key and query it. Such an operation would be non-transactional and non-atomic ie. it is possible for two or more parallel processes to manage to read "not locked" from the shared mem var before one of them manages to mark it "locked". You would have to use a (blocking) semaphore to serialize access to the shared mem var, thus recreating the very problem you are trying to solve.
In other words, if non-blocking queries are crucial to you, you need to either request that this issue be solved by the PHP designers, or pick another mechanism to do your locking, one that already has this feature.