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DUI Task Force In Franklin County to Operate Two DUI Checkpoints

The Franklin County DUI Task Force announced it will be operating two sobriety checkpoints tonight (April 19, 2024).  Both checkpoints will be located in the northwest part of the county.  Most people have not been through a sobriety checkpoint, so this article explains what happens at checkpoints, their legality, and their effectiveness.


The Franklin County DUI Task Force
The Franklin County DUI Task Force is a group of law enforcement officers with advanced training in DUI enforcement.  It includes officers from 26 law enforcement agencies and is funded by federal grants.  Established in 1993, the Franklin County DUI Task Force was the first county-wide organization in Ohio to address the problem of impaired driving. 

To address the problem, the Task Force uses both education and enforcement.  The educational component includes awareness campaigns such as “Over the Limit, Under Arrest” and “You Drink, You Drive, You Lose”.  The enforcement component includes sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols.

What Happens at Sobriety Checkpoints
At a sobriety checkpoint, law enforcement officers gather at a certain location and stop all the vehicles (or a percentage of the vehicles) which pass through that location.  When a vehicle is stopped, an officer talks with the driver.  If, while talking with the driver, the officer suspects the driver may be under the influence, the officer further detains the driver for a DUI (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio) investigation.

The OVI investigation includes questioning related to driving under the influence and also includes field sobriety testing.  If the investigation gives the officer probable cause to believe the driver is under the influence of alcohol, the officer administers a breath alcohol test.  If the officer believes the driver is under the influence of a drug, the officer may obtain a sample of the driver’s urine for testing.  The driver is then charged with OVI and summoned to appear in court.

Legality of Sobriety Checkpoints
The legality of sobriety checkpoints was addressed by the United States Supreme Court in Michigan v. Sitz.  The issue was whether seizing a person at a sobriety checkpoint was a violation of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures.  The Court found the warrantless seizure of a person at a sobriety checkpoint was reasonable because the governmental interest in detecting drunk driving outweighed the individual’s interest in not being inconvenienced by being stopped.

For a sobriety checkpoint to be Constitutionally valid, it must follow certain rules regarding its location, publication, and operation.  Recommended procedures for checkpoints are detailed in a publication by the The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

Effectiveness of Sobriety Checkpoints
It is impossible to measure the deterrent effect of sobriety checkpoints.  However, when it comes to detecting and prosecuting impaired drivers, sobriety checkpoints are not very effective.  In two checkpoints in 2023, a very small percentage of drivers passing through the checkpoints were charged with OVI.  In one checkpoint, it was 0.19%.  In the other checkpoint, it was 0.10%.  Meanwhile, about 2,000 drivers were inconvenienced by being stopped for the checkpoints.

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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