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DUI Checkpoints: What Are They and How Should I Proceed?

DUI Checkpoint
DUI checkpoints are an effective tool used by local law enforcement and governments, but on the other side are disliked by drivers. The local government and officials will often use DUI checkpoints as a point of emphasis to increase safety. They can also be used to increase arrests and maximize revenue from ensuing fines.

The idea and practice of the checkpoint, also known as a DUI Roadblock, has been challenged a plethora of times on legal a basis. Even with the pushback, this practice is considered legal and completely constitutional. When done properly, a DUI checkpoint will choose drivers randomly, for example, every third motorist will be screened. The selected drivers will be asked to show their license and other legal motoring documentation, while the other vehicles will pass through unharmed.

What Will Officers Look For at a DUI Checkpoint?

Checking your license is a law enforcement officer’s chance to get a look at you to see if you are alert if your eyes are bloodshot, or even if you have the scent of alcohol or marijuana on you. The officer will also visually scan your vehicle for open bottles or other paraphernalia. If they suspect you of drinking or using drugs to the point of illegal impairment, you will be apprehended for a DUI charge.

What Can You Be Charged with at a DUI Checkpoint?

There are many other things you could be booked for, which can include:

  • Operating a motor vehicle unlicensed
  • Driving on a suspended license
  • Possession of a controlled substance
  • Vehicle infractions such as a broken headlight, malfunctioning brake light, burned out tag light, etc.

Even though checkpoints are completely legal, they have become a subject of intense examination and review. Police stations and local governments must plan, announce, and run checkpoints according to specific guidelines and regulations. Ultimately, they are not allowed to discriminate based on race/skin color or assumed immigrant status.

What Should You Expect at a DUI Checkpoint?

A majority of drivers on the road aren’t sure of what to expect when they come across a DUI checkpoint. This situation can cause the individual to approach the checkpoint and officers in an overly cautious way. It is vital to understand your personal rights when facing an unscheduled potential interaction with a police officer.  Cincinnati, OH DUI traffic stops are often set to take place around holidays or major events (sports, concerts, etc). This is done strategically to catch those drinking and driving, as excessive drinking can be commonplace during celebrations. Grants from the federal government also allow local law enforcement to run checkpoints in locations where there are high numbers of OVI/DUI accidents and during periods of the year when those accidents occur. Before you hit the road, be sure to understand your rights and be aware of expectations at checkpoints.

DUI checkpoints are set in place to find drivers that are illegally under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but often times others are detained. These motorists are unaware of the rights afforded to them by the Constitution and governing state laws that can protect them from a disastrous situation.  Plenty of drivers on the road feel stressed and uncomfortable and display negative body language that a law enforcement officer could read as suspicious. When drivers understand what to expect at one of these checkpoints, the likelihood of providing an officer with reasonable suspicion will greatly decrease and you can go on your way with no major interactions.

Typically, DUI checkpoints are on roads that have large amounts of traffic and marked well.  Often officers, or higher-ranking officials within the station, will share with proper news outlets the time and locations of upcoming checkpoints to make sure it is public knowledge for people traveling.  If you manage to travel on a road with a checkpoint, it is good practice to understand what you will expect.  First, there will be a sign that lets you know the checkpoint is near, and this will be followed by orange cones with officers nearby. There is a potential to wait in line to allow other vehicles to be screened.

Officers do not need to remind you of your rights, be aware of that. You have Constitutionally protected rights, which include no unlawful searches and seizures and the right to refrain from incriminating yourself. Be aware of your rights in these moments even though it can seem like a major inconvenience. DUI checkpoints in Cincinnati, Ohio lead to felony arrests and other citations issued, so the potential for other good to be done outweighs the minor inconvenience.

Once you reach an officer, they will approach your vehicle and proceed with a few questions.  Be sure that your window is down. Also, prepare yourself to be respectful and answer questions regarding identification, insurance, and other conditions regarding your license and registration.  The only questions you are required to answer are those regarding identification, insurance, and registration of your vehicle. This information must be provided such as with any other traffic stop.  Should the officer ask any other seemingly harmless questions, you are not required to answer them.  If you are not sure as to what types of license and identification questions you are allowed to answer, please contact a DUI lawyer in Cincinnati, Ohio.  A well-trained attorney can give you proper information as to which questions you are able to answer.

Officers might ask simple questions such as, “Where are you coming from?” and, “Any fun plans tonight?” to try and gather more information about you and your passengers’ behavior. If and officer deems that they have garnered enough info to “prove” that you may have been under the influence or have committed a different violation, they will ask you to pull your vehicle to a secondary location.  DUI attorneys recommend not answering any questions regarding where you are going, where you have been, or how many drinks you have had because, once again, they might get you in more trouble than you want.

In the event that an officer asks you to move to a secondary stop, you will be faced with additional questions. Officers asking the additional questions to gather more information to cite reasonable suspicion for potentially charging you with a DUI.  If the officer suspects you have been drinking and driving or under the influence, they may ask you to step out of the vehicle and take a field sobriety test.  The tests can include one of the following: an eye test, such as the HGN (horizontal gaze nystagmus), the walk and turn test, or even the one leg stand test.  Each test is used to help the officer gather information and evidence against you to support their reasonable suspicion. You are not mandated to take any of the tests, and you are you required to use the Portable Breathalyzer Test that is used during these stops. Remember, refusal to do so might result in other fines and consequences, so be careful in your decision making at these stops.

It is paramount to keep in mind that questions asked by police officers that do not correlate with identification, insurance, or vehicle registration are not required to be answered by you. Law enforcement officers cannot, on any ground, arrest you for refusing to answer their additional questions or refusing to blow into a Portable Breathalyzer Test machine. Working with a professional and trained DUI attorney in Cincinnati, Ohio can help prepare you for a strong defense in the case of any charges brought against you as a result of a DUI checkpoint arrest. Contact a Cincinnati, OH DUI Attorney today for additional questions.