After the arrest of The Ohio State University quarterback J.T. Barrett for operating a motor vehicle while impaired (DUI/OVI) around Halloween last year, there has been much discussion in Ohio regarding the legality of sobriety checkpoints. This was exemplified by a November Columbus Dispatch article entitled, “Are DUI Checks Fair?”
Sobriety Checkpoints are Legal
The constitutionality of sobriety checkpoints was addressed by the United States Supreme Court in Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz. This 1990 decision held that DUI/OVI roadblocks satisfied the 4th Amendment standard of reasonable search and seizure because the state has a “substantial government interest” in preventing drunk driving.
However, this case did not discuss the other requirements that must be met for DUI/OVI checkpoints to be legal. In Ohio, law enforcement must have a uniformly random method of stopping vehicles, such as every fourth vehicle. Law enforcement cannot target certain types of vehicles or drivers.
Moreover, notice must be provided to the public regarding any planned checkpoint. This is provided by the Ohio State Highway Patrol with notice of the date, location and time frame of the checkpoint. The exact location is provided one week prior, and the time is provided within 24 hours of the actual checkpoint.
Can I Turn Around at a Sobriety Checkpoint in Ohio?
The next question then becomes, “Can I turn around to avoid the checkpoint?” The simple answer is “yes.” A motorist has the right to avoid a checkpoint, assuming that the person can do so with a legal traffic maneuver. However, most checkpoints are positioned in an area where the ability of a motorist to execute such a maneuver legally is greatly diminished, if not completely eliminated.
This is what occurred in J.T. Barrett’s case. Barrett was cited for illegal backing as well as DUI/OVI.
Even though a person can legally turn away from a checkpoint, it is important to remember that law enforcement is watching. Your vehicle may be noted by the officers. Minor traffic infractions, such as failure to signal or rolling through a stop sign can be used as a reason to stop a motorist and lead to a DUI/OVI arrest.
The best way to avoid any issue with a sobriety checkpoint in Ohio is to not drink and drive. However, if you do partake in alcoholic beverages, drive and then are stopped by law enforcement, you should immediately contact an attorney.
Law enforcement can violate your rights in many different ways – not limited to sobriety checkpoints – and an experienced and knowledgeable DUI/OVI attorney can investigate your case and determine whether any issues with law enforcement can lead to a reduction or dismissal of your DUI/OVI charge.
Columbus and Delaware, Ohio DUI/OVI Attorney
If you have been charged with DUI/OVI in Columbus or Delaware, Ohio, contact Johnson Legal, LLC and speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Attorney David Johnson of Johnson Legal, LLC will discuss your case and assist you in fighting the charges. Call (614) 987-0192 or send an email to schedule a consultation regarding your DUI/OVI case.