OVI / DUI / DWI Checkpoints are usually published a week before that they will happen, but only as a very general announcement. The morning of the checkpoint, the exact location and time is then reported by law enforcement. The guidelines, as per a 1990 US Supreme Court Ruling state that a sobriety checkpoint must have a history of drunk driving or alcohol related accidents, the logistics related to the checkpoint must be documented, residents in the area must be notified one week in advance as to the time, date, and stops must be random – (see below). As a criminal defense attorney, I try to list the checkpoints weekly in Ohio, when they occur, but your best bet is to check your local paper.
Law enforcement must have a standard method to determine which cars are stopped as not all are pulled over during the checkpoint. For example, every other car or every third car. If you are one of the lucky ones, they will be looking for “obvious signs of alcohol impairment”: slurred speech, smell of alcohol, bloodshot eyes, etc. They then decide if they will detain you and screen you further.
If you come upon one, it must be preceded by highly reflective signs and there must be fully marked police cars in the area. The entire checkpoint MUST be defined by lights or flares.
If you don’t want to go through it, you can turn around – but ONLY if it’s a legal turn. Most of the time OVI / DUI / DWI checkpoints are put in a location convenient for law enforcement but not for approaching vehicles – there aren’t usually places to legally turn around. If you are able to turn away legally, be certain that you follow all traffic rules because you will have brought suspicion to yourself and sometimes an officer will follow you and wait for you to commit a minor traffic violation.
There cannot be a failure to follow state and federal guidelines at an OVI / DUI / DWI Checkpoint. If you are arrested for driving under the influence it does NOT mean you will be convicted. All the above factors can heavily influence the outcome of your case. If your constitutional rights were violated and the procedures were not done properly as listed above, contact the best criminal defense attorney in Ohio.
The Bottom Line: Your best bet is to not drink and drive. But, even after one or two glasses of wine, most people think they are OK to get behind the wheel. If you come upon a checkpoint, it’s in your best interest to remain calm. If you can’t turn around legally, don’t. Be polite, if your car is the lucky one pulled over. Don’t answer questions; it’s your right to remain silent. Remember, law enforcement must have reasonable suspicion that a driver is under the influence. And, don’t take any tests.
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