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Unfortunately, mistakes happen and people don’t think they have had too much to drink and get behind the wheel and drive. Only later do they realize the alcohol is affecting them more than they thought. Instead of pulling over and figuring out how to get home, they keep driving. What happens if they come to a DUI Checkpoint in Ohio?

  • When motorists drive through a checkpoint, the officers will stop random vehicles, depending on the number of cars going through, and waive the others through. Maybe they will stop every other car or every fourth car.
  • For each car that is stopped, the officer is looking for “articulable signs of impairment,” such as an odor of alcohol, bloodshot and glassy eyes or slurred speech. If the officer has a reasonable belief the driver is impaired, then he will direct the driver to a separate screening area to perform field sobriety tests.
  • If an officer orders the driver out of the vehicle, they must get out. However, under Ohio law, citizens required to perform the field sobriety tests. These three tests, the walk and turn, one-leg stand, and horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) tests, are designed to require the driver to concentrate on multiple things at the same time, which becomes more difficult if the driver is intoxicated. The HGN test also looks for involuntary muscle jerking in the eyes, which could be indicative of intoxication.
    • Most Criminal Defense Attorneys in Ohio will advise people to refuse to take the field sobriety test for several reasons: the officers do not tell the motorist beforehand which parts they are being “graded” on, there are numerous legitimate reasons to have problems with a test (such as back, knee, or balance problems) and the officer is making a subjective call at times. Their main job is to protect others driving on the road, and they can sometimes err on the side of caution.

      After an arrest, the officer will request the driver to take a breathalyzer test, or give a urine or blood sample to check for a violation of the “per se limits.” This is a test that Ohio law does require to be taken. If not, the driver’s license will be suspended by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles for a period of time, even if the driver was not were not drunk.

  • The driver should call an attorney. The best criminal defense attorney in Ohio can review the records related to the sobriety checkpoint to determine whether it was operated within the established guidelines. If not, any evidence obtained as a result of the stop may be excluded. In addition, an attorney will investigate the propriety of the arrest, the administration of field sobriety tests, the circumstances surrounding the breath test, and the circumstantial evidence of intoxication.

The Bottom Line: In 1990, the United States Supreme Court upheld the validity of DUI roadblocks in Michigan v. Sitz. The Court found the intrusion/inconvenience of individuals being stopped is outweighed by the government’s interest in curbing drunk driving. In the same year Sitz was decided, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published recommended procedures for DUI roadblocks. For a DUI checkpoint to be legal, law enforcement must follow guidelines regarding such issues as the location of the checkpoint, the operation of the checkpoint and the publicity of the checkpoint. In addition, if a driver stopped at the checkpoint is further detained for a DUI investigation, that detention must be based on a reasonable suspicion the driver is under the influence, and any subsequent arrest must be justified by probable cause.  Call Scott: 513.260.2099  He has successfully represented many clients charged with DUI from a sobriety checkpoints