Factors Considered When Determining The Location Of A DUI Checkpoint

DUI checkpoints are most often established at locations that have long-term histories of alcohol-related incidents of impaired driving or alcohol-related accidents. For example; busy intersections, high traffic roads, and roads that have a tendency to be in the “public eye”.

Once police have researched the location and established a need for a checkpoint, they will begin planning the logistics of the checkpoint. This includes making staffing decisions, deciding manpower and establishing the most relevant time to conduct the checkpoint.

Notice Of Checkpoints

Seven days before a DUI checkpoint is established, police provide public notice. In this notice, police will provide a general time, date and location for the checkpoints. This notice is typically in the newspaper, local police website, in the news or on the internet in variety of venues. Many DUI attorneys will share the location of the checkpoint on their Facebook page.

A few hours before the site is established, another notice goes out that details the specific location of the checkpoint and notes when it will begin and end. Once again, attorneys who focus their practice on Ohio DUI defense will update their Facebook page, blog, or Twitter account with this information.

In advance of the checkpoint’s becoming operational, police will erect large reflectorized signs along the side of the road where the checkpoint will be.

Keep in mind, that in Ohio, there must be a turn off prior to entering the checkpoint. Once the checkpoint is operational, marked police cars are placed by these signs. If a driver were to want to avoid a checkpoint, he would have to turn his vehicle around, legally, before passing these signs.

The checkpoint itself is marked off by traffic cones and is lit by the use of portable lights, flares and police car emergency lights. In addition, there is usually a portable breath test station that complies with the Ohio Department of Health and Ohio Administrative Code standards on the scene.

Entering A DUI Checkpoint

When you enter a DUI checkpoint, you will either be stopped by an officer or signaled to pass through the checkpoint. Most importantly, the officers are trying to stop vehicles randomly. There really is no rhyme or reason as to which cars are stopped. However, some factors that may be taken into consideration when stopping a vehicle are: those cars with no front license plate, a vehicle which has a headlight burned out, vehicles with any visible equipment violation and those vehicles already equipped with restrictive plates.

If you are one of the drivers who get pulled over, the law enforcement officer will observe you for signs of alcohol impairment. These sign may include: slurred speech, bloodshot watery eyes, an odor of alcohol emitting from the vehicle or from your breath or an inability to maintain focus.

If you do not exhibit any such symptoms, you will be ushered through the zone. If you do exhibit signs of alcohol impairment, you will be taken to a secured screening area for further testing which will include the administration of standardized field sobriety tests.

The screening area is a separate space within the checkpoint. At the screening area, the officer will administer a series of field sobriety tests. Some may be approved tests under the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and other tests may be unapproved. These tests may include: One Legged Stand, Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, and the Walk and Turn

Field Tests

The One Legged Stand requires a subject to lift either leg 6 inches off the ground while keeping their hands at their side. They are then instructed to watch the toe of the raised foot while counting out loud. The officer will time the test for 30 seconds. The officer will indicates in his or her report if any “clues” are witnessed. Those clues include: swayed while balancing, raised arms for balance, put foot down, or cannot complete the test.

The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test allows an officer to check your eyes for an involuntary jerking of the pupil. The officer will be looking for 6 clues during the administration of the test. They will include: lack of smooth pursuit, onset of nystagmus prior to 45 degrees, and sustained nystagmus at maximum deviation.

The Walk and Turn test involves a 161 word instruction phase. It requires the subject to walk a line, either actual or invisible, by taking 9 steps up, making a turn using a series of small steps and taking 9 steps back. The officer is looking for certain clues on this test. Those clues include: Moves feet during the instruction phase, raises arms for balance, steps off the line, takes wrong number of steps, turns incorrectly, and doesn’t touch heel to toe.

If you fail to complete these standardized field sobriety tests, an officer may arrest you on suspicion of operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. From there, you will be asked to subject to a breathalyzer test.

A Breathalyzer is a device that can gauge your blood-alcohol content (BAC) by taking a reading of your breath. It measures the amount of alcohol in your system per 210 liters of breath.

There are several types of Breathalyzer machines being used throughout the State of Ohio. Among them are: the BAC Datamaster, the Intoxilyzer 5000 and the Intoxilyzer 8000. Each machine is a bit different but all measure the amount of alcohol in your system. Failure to submit to a breathalyzer test will result in the immediate suspension of your driver’s license if it is deemed that the officer had reasonable grounds to out you under an Administrative License Suspension (“ALS”). This is also known as the Form 2255.

Additionally, there is a “hard” suspension that must elapse before any limited driving privileges may be granted by the court unless an ALS appeal is filed and granted. The “hard” suspension varies based on the number of prior convictions of OVI and prior refusals of chemical tests. However, for a first time offender, the hard suspension is 30 days a refusal of the breath, blood, or urine test.

If you are stopped and arrested for DUI/OVI at a Columbus checkpoint, you need a qualified Columbus OVI lawyer to represent you.  Contact us today at (614)914-4822 to help with your Columbus DUI case.