If you are out in Ohio this weekend and come to a DUI checkpoint; don’t panic. As a criminal defense attorney in Ohio, I have seen clients who were nervous end up incriminating themselves. If you can, without committing a traffic violation, turn around – but ONLY if it can be done safely and not as a U-Turn. If you are stuck and must go through the checkpoint, stop when and where you are instructed. Roll down your window, hand your license and insurance and do so politely and without volunteering any information to police, no matter the questions they are asking. Keep in mind, law enforcement is looking for slurred speech, glossy eyes, dilated pupils, etc. It’s a DUI checkpoint and that is the point.
Remain silent. Remain calm. Don’t go into a long explanation of where you’re headed. Don’t become talkative. Don’t act nervous, or fidgety, because these actions could be interpreted as evidence of alcohol or stimulant use. If police ask you to take any tests, you do not, under Ohio law, have to. Your constitutional right to protect yourself against self-incrimination ensures this. Simply state that you would like to call your criminal defense attorney.
The best thing to remember is that any questions that are asked by police that do not relate to your identification, insurance or registration are NOT required. You can not be arrested for refusing to answer, or refusing to blow into a Breathalyzer machine. An experienced criminal defense attorney will help to prepare a strong defense if any charges are brought on as a result of a DUI Checkpoint arrest.
The Bottom Line: No matter the circumstances of a traffic stop by law enforcement officers, whether it is for suspicion for driving drunk or under the influence of drugs, you do have rights. The Ohio State Highway Patrol has further clarified their procedures and notes that large, highly reflective signs are to be used at the side of the checkpoint site near fully marked police cars. A second sign is to be placed at the beginning of traffic cones or other markets that define the boundaries of the checkpoint. The entire checkpoint area is to be illuminated by lights or flares. Any failure to follow state and federal guidelines regarding sobriety checks is problematic and can only strengthen your case. Put my number in your phone and call me: 513-260-2099