They are a common sight on Columbus roads, especially during the summer months: OVI checkpoints. Even sober drivers cannot help but feel nervous at the sight of the warning cones and lighted signs that warn motorists of the approaching checkpoint. Sobriety checkpoints are a common method through which police attempt to find drunk drivers and other individuals committing illegal activities. Most motorists are intimidated and scared at sobriety checkpoints, allowing the officers to do what they will and answering all of the officer’s questions. The fact that a motorist was arrested for DUI-OVI at a sobriety checkpoint can even lead some of these motorists to plead guilty to their DUI-OVI charge, believing that they have no defense. Before you give up hope, however, keep these tips in mind:
Sobriety checkpoints must comply with certain legal requirements.
The roadside is not the time or place to argue about the legality of the roadblock. However, take note of as many of the details of the checkpoint as possible: were there any warning signs in front of the checkpoint? What did they look like? How many officers were present? How were cars stopped (was every car stopped? Every other car? Were cars stopped without any apparent pattern)? Even the most minute of details can be important in determining whether the checkpoint was constitutional or not.
You do not need to answer the officer’s questions.
While the officers do have a legal right to ask for your license and insurance, you do not need to answer the officer if he or she asks what you have had to drink that night or other similar questions. You do not have to give the officer permission to search your car, and officers may not search your car without probable cause. However, know that any answers you do give (such as “I had 3 drinks tonight”) can be used to support the officer’s decision to administer further tests to you.
Be careful in avoiding the checkpoint.
Sometimes there are opportunities to avoid the checkpoint by turning off onto a side street. Be careful if you decide to do this. Oftentimes there is a police cruiser positioned near the entrance of the checkpoint to watch for individuals violating the law as they avoid the checkpoints. If you do not use a turn signal while turning onto a side street, for example, the police may pull you over for this traffic violation. If the police smell alcohol on your person when they stop you, they may be able to conduct a traffic stop anyway.
Do not plead to a DUI or OVI offense without first speaking with a Columbus DUI-OVI defense attorney.
The team at Suhre & Associates, LLC is experienced in defending drivers charged with DUI or OVI offenses. Speak to us before entering any plea to a DUI or OVI charge resulting from a sobriety checkpoint. If it is found that the checkpoint was not properly conducted or that the police violated your rights, often a “not guilty” verdict can be secured. Contact us today at (614) 827-2000.