OVI checkpoints are used as a method to deter drunk driving. Law enforcement officers in the State of Ohio have used checkpoints for these purposes since 1989. The United States Supreme Court in Michigan Department of State Police vs. Sitz 496 U.S. 444 (1990) ruled that properly conducted checkpoints were constitutional as long as certain guidelines were followed. The site of the checkpoint must have a history of alcohol related accidents and alcohol related arrests. The checkpoint must be mapped out by the law enforcement authorities in advance of the event and a notice must be given to the public disclosing the date, time and location of the checkpoint one week in advance.
Officers are not required to stop all drivers at the checkpoint. The number of vehicles stopped will depend on the volume of traffic on that particular road. The vehicles that are stopped must be selected randomly to meet the United States Supreme Court’s guidelines. Once a vehicle is stopped, the officer will look for signs of alcohol impairment. If the officer has reasonable suspicion to believe that the driver is impaired, he will ask the driver to perform a series of field sobriety tests in a screening area away from traffic. If the driver fails these tests he will be arrested and taken to the station where he will be given the option to take the breathalyzer test.
There is an ongoing debate regarding the deterrent effect of these checkpoints. Most of the research suggests that checkpoints have not had much of an impact in reducing the number of alcohol related crashes and injuries. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, however, in 2002 reported a 20% reduction in alcohol related crashes in states that implement sobriety checkpoints compared to those that do not.
If you have any questions or comments regarding this issue, please feel free to contact the office of Gallon, Takacs, Boissoneault & Schaffer, Co. L.P.A. at 419-843-2001.