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What should Ohio drivers do when they spot OVI checkpoints?

On Behalf of | Mar 20, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Police officers in Ohio are always on the lookout for drunk drivers. Someone accused of impairment at the wheel or having a high blood alcohol concentration BAC could end up arrested after a targeted traffic stop. Police officers also arrest people for operating vehicles while intoxicated (OVI) offenses after crashes.

However, the most effective enforcement tool might be a sobriety checkpoint or OVI roadblock. Police officers in Ohio can file certain paperwork and then set up a checkpoint on a road. Every driver who approaches the checkpoint must participate in screening to determine if they are likely under the influence. Prior court rulings have established that properly-conducted checkpoints are not a violation of someone’s Constitutional rights.

What should Ohio motorists do when they encounter an OVI checkpoint ahead of them?

Drivers can potentially avoid a checkpoint

People sometimes share popular misconceptions about OVI checkpoints or sobriety roadblocks that lead to people making mistakes in traffic. For example, people sometimes allege that it is illegal to redirect upon noticing a sobriety checkpoint ahead. Motorists may feel as though their only option is to proceed through the checkpoint even if there is plenty of road between them and police vehicles.

Technically, drivers have the option of rerouting or even conducting a U-turn to avoid a sobriety checkpoint. Unless there is a signposted saying that no U-turns are allowed or there is a hill or curve nearby that would make them a prohibited traffic maneuver, drivers can turn around. They could also turn off onto another street to avoid the checkpoint and proceed on their way without delay.

In some cases, police officers may reach out to others on patrol to check in on drivers who overtly avoid sobriety checkpoints. However, someone does not automatically face arrest just because they turned onto a different street or turned around to avoid a checkpoint.

If someone does proceed through a checkpoint and gets arrested, they may have different strategies available for defending against OVI charges. Reviewing the circumstances that led to an arrest can help someone evaluate their options for responding to pending OVI charges. Drivers who know their rights may be in a better position to avoid unfair consequences related to aggressive law enforcement efforts.