Let’s get a few things clear before going into detail about what happens at the drunk and drugged driving checkpoints in central Ohio.
One other major thing to know about DUI checkpoints is that, yes, a driver charged for any reason can partner with a Columbus, OH, DUI lawyer to challenge the actual conduct of the checkpoint itself. A series of state court decisions have placed strict rules on where, when, and how law enforcement officials can conduct DUI checkpoints. If any of these rules are violated, evidence collected to support charges can become inadmissible.
With those basics in mind, here are four things DUI attorneys in Franklin County need every driver and passenger to know about checkpoints.
Officers listen to how you answer questions even more than to what you say. Any slurring or verbal confusion will give them grounds for asking you to step out of your vehicle and perform field sobriety tests.
Keep your answers as short as possible and do not respond to invitations to engage in small talk. For instance, answer yes when an officer correctly reads your address off your license and asks you if that is, in fact, your address. Do not go into detail about what you ordered for dinner.
The DUI checkpoint is also not the place to argue about your rights or to refuse to step out of your vehicle and submit to a pat-down for concealed weapons. Being argumentative may be interpreted as being aggressive, an actual threat, or as an attempt to conceal evidence. Such an interpretation will give an officer reason to escalate a simple document check into an encounter that ends in an arrest.
Ohio law does not allow officers to arrest drivers just for refusing to walk straight lines, stand on one leg, or follow pen lights with only their eyes. Additionally, courts in Ohio do not recognize results from alcohol breath tests performed at DUI checkpoints as legally valid evidence of intoxication unless they have a certified machine on site.
At the same time, officers are allowed to rely on their assessment of how drivers performed field sobriety tests when deciding whether to take people into custody. Officers can also use field test performance as evidence during a DUI trial. Since any number of physical limitations, from age and obesity to recent injuries and genetic conditions, can make “passing” a field sobriety test practically impossible, politely declining requests to perform one or more tests can benefit a driver.
Officers can look through your vehicle’s window and enter your vehicle without further permission if they see weapons, alcohol, drugs, or drug paraphernalia. If no weapons or “contraban” are in plain sight, however, officers cannot search the vehicle without permission or a valid reason.
Even if you truly have nothing to hide, having your vehicle searched will be time-consuming and inconvenient. Also, saying no to a vehicle search request can give your DUI attorney grounds for challenging the admissibility of some types of evidence.
You have the right to consult with an attorney at any point during a DUI checkpoint encounter, while in custody, aan help you decide whether to participate in field sobriety tests, decide whether to submit blood and urine samples for alcohol and drug testing. It may also help you understand what will happen next if you end up getting charged with what the officer and court will call operating a vehicle while intoxicated, or OVI.
DUI checkpoints or roadblocks are an obvious intrusion on the privacy of an individual. Any time the privacy of an individual is compromised by law enforcement, it brings up constitutional issues. The fourth amendment provides protection against intrusions that are unreasonable.
DUI/OVI Checkpoints have been approved in Ohio subject to certain conditions:
An experienced Columbus DUI attorney should investigate whether the above conditions were met and develop a strong defense strategy for your individual case.
If you were arrested for drinking and driving as a result of a DUI checkpoint, call (614) 205-2208 to speak to an experienced Columbus Ohio DUI attorney from The Maher Law Firm. Colin Maher of the Maher Law Firm regularly ranks among the best DUI attorneys in Franklin County. To speak to a Columbus DUI lawyer now.