In Ohio, checkpoints are determined by police where they will set up traffic cones and barricades to stop vehicles and check for suspected drunk drivers. These checkpoints must adhere to many guidelines. For instance, police will check every other vehicle, or every third vehicle, etc. The driver stopped will be checked by the officer for signs of drug or alcohol impairment and intoxication. They will be looking for slurred speech, a smell of alcohol and they must have a reason to believe the driver who is stopped at the checkpoint has been drinking before they can conduct a breath test.
There are requirements that law enforcement must follow, such as establishing the pattern in which to stop vehicles. The checkpoints also must be publicized before they are held. This means the notices often are printed in local newspapers and announced on local radio stations nearly a week in advance.
The advanced planning of sobriety checkpoints is crucial to ensuring they are legally done. Failure to do so could be used as evidence that the checkpoint techniques were not legal, thus the stop and all of the evidence was not legitimate. This is one way in which OVI charges can be reduced or dropped after an OVI checkpoint stop. A good criminal defense attorney can examine your case to discover if this applies to you.
When approaching a checkpoint, drivers should roll down their car window to speak to the officers. From there, they likely will ask questions about where you have been, where you are going and if you have consumed alcohol or drugs. You have the right to remain silent. Politely, drivers should only say they would like to contact their defense attorney.
If there is no suspicion of the driver being under the influence, the stop likely will last about 20 seconds. When drivers are stopped at OVI checkpoints, it is important to be cooperative. Disagreeing with law enforcement will not make the situation easier. If a driver is suspected to be intoxicated, he or she will be asked to pull over out of the way of traffic. Law enforcement officers might then ask the driver to submit to a chemical test of his or her blood, urine or breath. The officer also could have the driver complete field sobriety exercises. All of which you have the right to refuse, and the right to call a criminal defense attorney on the spot.
It is important to remember that any questions asked by officers that do not relate to a driver’s identification, insurance, or vehicle registration are not required. Officers cannot arrest a driver for refusing to answer their questions about where the driver was going, or refusing to blow into a Portable Breathalyzer Test machine. Additionally, that information cannot be used against the driver in court to show guilt.
The Bottom Line: At an OVI checkpoint the officer may not remind a driver of their rights. We have Constitutionally protected rights, including no unlawful searches and seizures and the right to refrain from incriminating yourself. There are options if you are facing charges as a result of the checkpoint. An aggressive criminal defense attorney can help with the case and ensure all of your rights have been protected. Call me if you are pulled over. 513-260-2099