Ohio has been using DUI/OVI checkpoints for more than 30 years to deter drunk driving. Although they may seem like a violation of your rights, courts have ruled that checkpoints are legal, provided they fall within certain guidelines. Exercising your rights to remain silent and refuse a field sobriety test may not be enough to keep you from getting arrested and charged with driving under the influence. You may also need help from an attorney to avoid an OVI charge.
If you’re stopped at an OVI checkpoint in Ohio, it’s important to know what to expect, and what your rights are—including the right to call a criminal defense lawyer. Put our number in your phone now under “Graham & Graham” in case you ever need it: 1-800-625-8585.
When Are OVI Checkpoints Legal in Ohio?
You’re driving home from a night out with friends when you see the orange sign announcing, “OVI Checkpoint Ahead.” A wave of anxiety washes over you. You had a couple of drinks at the restaurant. You definitely don’t feel drunk, but technically, you might be over the legal limit. As you get closer to the checkpoint, your anxiety builds. Losing your license would be disastrous. Then there are the fines and possible criminal record. You know you have to stop and talk to the officer ahead, but you’re not sure what to say. Is this even legal? How can they just stop people at random?
Police typically cannot stop you without any proof, or probable cause, that you’ve broken the law. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that sobriety checkpoints are an exception, since the dangers of drunk driving are so high.
Although legal, OVI checkpoint must follow certain guidelines. For example, police must publicly announce checkpoints locations ahead of time. If police don’t announce the checkpoint and you’re stopped at one, it could be a violation of your Constitutional rights. The National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) provides guidelines for police checkpoints. They include warning motorists of checkpoints with warning devices such as reflective signs, safety cones, and flashing lights.
What to Do (And Not to Do) at an OVI Checkpoint
Getting stopped at an OVI checkpoint can be an intense experience even if you aren’t impaired. If you’ve been drinking, or you consumed anything else that might affect your judgment—even prescription medication—the situation becomes a lot more nerve-wracking.
Knowing what to do—and what not to do—at an OVI checkpoint helps make the process go more smoothly. It could also help you to avoid arrest or criminal charges.
- DO stay calm and be polite. Officers are good at reading body language. They could interpret nervousness or agitation as suspicious behavior.
- DON’T reach for anything or make any sudden movements. This will put the officer on high alert. Before the officer approaches your car, have your license, registration, and proof of insurance ready.
- DO know your rights. You have the right to remain silent and to contact an attorney. You do not have to consent to field sobriety tests or a vehicle search. If you’re not sure what to do, politely tell the officer you’d like to have a lawyer present.
- DON’T say anything that might incriminate you. The officer may ask harmless-sounding questions such as, “Where are you coming from?” or “Have you had any drinks tonight?” Remember that anything you say can and will be used against you. You might think you’re being helpful by volunteering information, but it could come back to hurt you. The only information you must provide is your identification, insurance, and vehicle registration.
Get Help From a Zanesville Ohio OVI Attorney
Ohio police arrest hundreds of people for drunken driving at checkpoints every year. If you’re one of them, your choice of attorney could make the difference between an OVI conviction and dismissed charges.
With offices in Zanesville and Cambridge, Ohio, Graham & Graham’s OVI lawyers offer people in trouble the legal counsel and aggressive representation they need. We protect your rights from the time you are arrested and continue to represent you throughout the legal process, up to and including an appeal. Contact Graham & Graham for a free case review, and keep this number in your phone for whenever and wherever you need our help: 1-800-625-8585.