Sobriety checkpoints are a widely debated topic for a variety of reasons. Some people hold the belief, even though the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the issue, that they violate the Constitution. For others, the actual effectiveness of sobriety checkpoints is questioned. But, regardless of your opinion of them, they are utilized in Ohio, and drivers, whether drinking or not, should have some general knowledge on how they operate.
Checkpoints Subject to Certain Guidelines
Importantly, the police cannot use sobriety checkpoints in any manner they want. Rather, they must be conducted according to very specific guidelines. The place the police choose to establish a checkpoint must have a history of crashes or incidents attributable to alcohol-related driving.
The police must give public notice that a checkpoint will be used about a week in advance. This notice details the date, estimated time, and location of the checkpoint. A couple hours before the checkpoint is established a more specific notice is given, with exact start and end times. Typically, sobriety checkpoints are conducted very late at night or early in the morning, when it is most likely that people who have been drinking are out driving.
As you approach the checkpoint, you will see several large reflective signs and marked police vehicles parked next to the signs. At this point, it is legal for you to turn around and avoid the checkpoint. However, it should be noted that turning around may raise the suspicion of the police. If they decide to follow you after you turn around, they will be looking for any violation that will allow them to pull you over.
It is entirely possible that you will be waved through the checkpoint and not have to speak with an officer. The conditions within the checkpoint zone and the amount of traffic affect how many, and in what manner, cars are stopped. The selection of cars must be uniformly random. A common method is to select every third car.
If you do have to stop at a checkpoint, the officer will be looking for any “articulable signs of alcoholic impairment.” The presence of these signs will result in the officer directing you to a screening area. This area is just a place that is safe and out of the way of traffic where you will be asked to submit to sobriety tests. If you pass the tests, the officer will allow you to leave. If you fail the tests, the normal arresting procedure for a person operating a vehicle under the influence will take place.
Protect Your Rights
If you were arrested at a sobriety checkpoint, you need to consult an attorney as quickly as possible. There are specific requirements that the police must follow in relation to sobriety checkpoints and the failure to meet them may cause your arrest to be unlawful. The experienced attorneys at Suhre & Associates, LLC can help you defend yourself against any charge related to drinking and driving. Contact us today and let us go to work for you.