Friday, June 21, 2024

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Ohio DUI/OVI Checkpoint Results

The results are in from two recent DUI checkpoints (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio).  Last weekend, DUI/OVI checkpoints were held in two Ohio Counties.  In Franklin County, 994 vehicles passed through the checkpoint, and one person was arrested for OVI.  In Wood County, 1,072 vehicles went through the checkpoint, and two people were arrested for OVI.  When hearing the results of the DUI/OVI checkpoints, one may wonder how checkpoints are operated, whether checkpoints are legal, and whether checkpoints are effective.

How Are DUI/OVI Checkpoints Operated?
At DUI/OVI checkpoints, also called DUI/OVI roadblocks, law enforcement officers stop every vehicle (or subset of vehicles) which passes through a designated location.  The officers then question the drivers about driving under the influence.  If an officer believes a driver may be under the influence, the driver is diverted and subjected to field sobriety tests.  If the officer has probable cause to believe the driver is under the influence, the officer arrests the driver and charges the driver with OVI.

Are DUI/OVI Checkpoints Legal?
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures.  When a law enforcement officer stops a vehicle, the driver is seized.  The general rule is a law enforcement officer is not permitted to stop a vehicle unless the officer has a reasonable suspicion the vehicle or an occupant is subject to seizure for violation of law.  The rationale is we do not want officers to have unbridled discretion in stopping motorists.

DUI/OVI checkpoints are an exception to the general rule.  In the context of a DUI/OVI checkpoint, officers do not need a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to stop motorists.  In Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz, the United States Supreme Court concluded these suspicionless stops do not violate the Fourth Amendment.  The Court reasoned the government’s interest in preventing accidents caused by drunk drivers outweighs the limited intrusion on privacy caused by the checkpoint.  The Court noted the checkpoint in question was conducted pursuant to pre-determined operational guidelines, so officers did not have unbridled discretion.

Are DUI/OVI Checkpoints Effective?
In the Sitz case, 1.6% of the drivers stopped at the checkpoint were found to be under the influence.  In the recent Wood County checkpoint, 0.19% of the drivers passing through the checkpoint were charged with OVI.  In last weekend’s Franklin County checkpoint, 0.10% of the drivers stopped were charged with OVI.

Effectiveness is “the degree to which something is successful at producing a desired result”.  With DUI/OVI checkpoints, the desired result is, presumably, detecting and prosecuting drunk drivers.  An evaluation of the effectiveness of DUI/OVI checkpoints must take into account two additional criteria:  (1) the cost of operating a checkpoint,  and (2) the inconvenience caused to the hundreds of drivers stopped at the checkpoint.  Taking into account those criteria, the recent checkpoints were not effective.

About the Author:  Shawn Dominy is a leading OVI lawyer in Ohio and the founder of the Dominy Law Firm in Columbus, Ohio.  He can be reached through his law firm’s website:  Dominy Law Firm.

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Shawn Dominy

Shawn Dominy

Shawn Dominy is a DUI/OVI lawyer in Columbus, Ohio. He is the former President of the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the state delegate to the National College for DUI Defense and a long-time member of the National Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers. Shawn Dominy authored the books 'Ohio DUI/OVI Guide', 'Ohio Vehicular Homicide Guide', and 'Ohio Vehicular Assault Guide' (Rivers Edge Publishing) and wrote a chapter in the book 'Defending Vehicular Homicide Cases' (Aspatore Publishing, 2012). He has several other published articles, and he speaks regularly at seminars teaching other lawyers about DUI/OVI. Shawn was named by SuperLawyers® as one of the top 50 lawyers in Columbus, Ohio, and he is listed as one of the 'Best Lawyers in America'® for DUI Defense. Shawn is a lifelong resident of central Ohio: he graduated from Olentangy High School and earned his bachelor’s degree and juris doctor from The Ohio State University. His office is in Columbus, and he lives in Powell with his wife and daughter. He serves with local community organizations, volunteers regularly at his church, and plays regularly with his German Shepherd. For more information, Shawn’s website is www.dominylaw.com, his blog is www.columbusoviattorneyblog.com,

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