DUI / OVI Checkpoints in Cincinnati
It can be intimidating to pass through a police roadblock, especially Hamilton County DUI checkpoints—even if you haven’t had a drop to drink. You feel nervous, because you know that any perceived suspicious behavior could lead to further detention or even an arrest. That’s why knowing what to do when passing through at a DUI checkpoint is so important. It can help you feel more confident and, more importantly, keep you out of trouble.
If you are arrested after being stopped at an OVI checkpoint, you should contact an experienced DUI defense attorney from Luftman, Heck & Associates. We are highly experienced in defending against OVI and related charges, and we will fight for the best possible outcome in your case.
OVI Checkpoints in Cincinnati
Typically, for a police officer to pull you over, that officer must have reasonable suspicion that you have, are in the act of, or will commit a crime. This reasonable suspicion must be based on observable facts, such as the movement of your vehicle, and not on a hunch. For example, if you are driving below the speed limit and swerving in your lane, this could cause an officer to believe you are intoxicated and to stop you.
DUI checkpoints, also called sobriety checkpoints, OVI checkpoints, and roadblocks are an exception to the requirement that officers need reasonable suspicion to stop you. The U.S. Supreme Court found that sobriety checkpoints are constitutional. The court based this decision on the reasoning that the inconvenience and intrusion you experience is outweighed by the government’s interest in finding and penalizing drunk driving.
Not all states allow DUI checkpoints. Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming do not allow sobriety checkpoints for a variety of reasons. It may violate a specific state statute, or a court may have found it violated the state constitution. However, Ohio is one of 37 states and the District of Columbia that allow sobriety checkpoints as long as they are conducted lawfully.
For an OVI checkpoint to take place in Cincinnati, it should be conducted properly. Based on the U.S. Supreme Court decision and Ohio appellate court, this includes the requirements:
- The location must have a historically high rate of alcohol-related crashes;
- The location must be selected for its safety and visibility to oncoming drivers;
- The law enforcement agency must follow specific guidelines for notification that the checkpoint is going to be conducted;
- There must be adequate warning signs, which are illuminated at night, to warn approaching drivers of the roadblock;
- If traffic is too heavy to stop each vehicle, then cars must be stopped based on a predetermined formula, such as every other or every third car; and
- Administrative officers must make a predetermination for the location, time, and procedures to be followed based on neutral criteria.
Overall, the rules in place for DUI roadblocks are to ensure they are conducted fairly. Officers during a sobriety checkpoint should have limited discretion in order to reduce the risk of discrimination. If you believe you were stopped at an unlawful OVI checkpoint, or the officers actions at the checkpoint went beyond what is allowed, call an experienced Cincinnati OVI attorney right away.
What to Do When You Come to an OVI Checkpoint in Hamilton County
When you see a DUI checkpoint ahead of you, you have the right to turn off the road or pull over and turn around. You have the right to make legal maneuvers to avoid the checkpoint, such as turning left or right on a side street prior to the checkpoint.
It’s important to remember, however, that any such behavior can be seen as suspicious by the officers on the scene—and breaking any traffic law, such as by making an illegal u-turn, is grounds to pull you over regardless. Making a lawful maneuver to avoid the checkpoint is not inherently grounds to pull you over, though. The police cannot follow you and pull you over simply because you turned right into a parking lot to turn around and go the other way. Avoiding a checkpoint is not reasonable suspicion, though making an illegal maneuver to do so can be.
If you choose to move toward the checkpoint, keep both hands on the wheel, drive carefully, and move slowly but with the flow of traffic. You may simply be waved through rather than stopped. Rarely are all cars stopped. More likely, only every other car or every third car will be actually pulled over by police.
What to Do When You Are Stopped at a DUI Checkpoint
If you are stopped, don’t panic. Simply pull over, turn on your overhead light, keep your hands on the wheel, and follow police instructions. Generally, you will be asked for your license and registration, which you are required by law to provide.
After you present your identification and registration, be polite, but resist the urge to chat with the police. At OVI checkpoints, just like in any other interaction with police, you have no obligation to answer any questions. Even innocent-seeming questions, such as “What were you doing tonight?” can be used as evidence against you later. Simply tell the officer that you would like to exercise your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.
If an officer suspects you have been drinking or taken drugs, you may be asked to pull over to the side. You also have the right to politely refuse any field sobriety tests. Under Ohio law, these DUI tests are not included in the implied consent laws and can be subjective. Taking the test only risks failure and further evidence against you. Generally, though, it won’t get this far. In most cases, you will be waved through on your way home.
You may be asked to blow into a small device, this is known as a roadside or preliminary breath test or a breathalyzer. Officers use this test to determine if there is any alcohol on your breath and whether there is an initial reading that you are at or over the legal limit. At this point, you are not under arrest and you are not required to submit to a roadside breath test. You may refuse a breathalyzer without fear of losing your license.
However, just because you refuse to answer questions, submit to field sobriety tests, or take a preliminary breath test does not mean you will avoid an arrest. While many drivers at OVI checkpoints are waved through, not everyone is so lucky.
If you are arrested for a DUI, you will be taken into the police station for further investigation, At this point, you can be required to take a chemical test or risk the administrative loss of your license. You still have the right to refuse to answer questions without your attorney, which you should take advantage of.
Once you are arrested for an OVI, you are in a very serious situation. Police are actively gathering evidence for a trial, and you face penalties that include months in jail and thousands of dollars in fines. The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to remain silent and contact an experienced Cincinnati OVI lawyer.
Arrested for a DUI at a Sobriety Checkpoint? Call Luftman, Heck & Associates
If you were stopped at a DUI checkpoint in Hamilton County and were arrested for an OVI, call our criminal defense lawyers at Luftman, Heck & Associates at (513) 338-1890. The sooner you have a defense attorney on your case, the better.
We will thoroughly review the OVI checkpoint to determine if it was properly planned and run. We will go over every detail of the stop, initial investigation, and arrest with you to determine if your rights were violated. Based on the information we gather, we may fight to have your charges dropped or dismissed.
If the case against you moves forward, we will work with you to build an aggressive defense for trial.