OVI Checkpoints - How They Operate and Why You Know The Locations

The Ohio State Highway Patrol regularly conducts checkpoints to deter violations of the law against operating a vehicle while impaired (OVI). The Patrol conducts OVI checkpoints on holidays such as Labor Day, the Fourth of July and Memorial Day, as well as randomly throughout the year.

According to state data, 370 people were killed in drunk driving-related crashes last year in Ohio. More than 24,000 drivers were arrested on OVI charges in 2009.

Part of the state’s efforts to combat drinking and driving is to conduct sobriety checkpoints. Though many drivers and civil libertarians have argued that the checkpoints are traps, the state insists that the checkpoints are established to serve as deterrents.

In order to enhance the deterrence value of the checkpoints, the State Patrol provides the media with press releases before setting up the checkpoints. That way, people know where the checkpoints are located. Typically, these checkpoints are set up where there have been a number of alcohol-related crashes or incidents involving impaired drivers.

The general notices are given about a week in advance of the establishment of the checkpoint. Specific notices with the exact location and screening times are given a few hours before the checkpoint is established.

Randomly selected drivers are stopped and momentarily detained in order to determine whether they are drinking and driving. Drivers who are suspected of driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs are usually removed from their vehicle. They will then be asked to submit to a series of field sobriety tests, which include a walk and turn test, a one-legged stand test and an examination of the driver’s eyes. The field sobriety tests are supposed to be a reliable indicator that an individual may be under the influence of alcohol.

Of course, drivers often refuse to submit to the field sobriety tests at the request of law enforcement officers. Individuals who refuse to submit to field sobriety tests at the request of a law enforcement officer receive an automatic one year administrative license suspension (ALS) by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. The ALS period increases if an individual has previous OVI/DUI/DWI refusals or convictions).

If you are convicted of OVI in Ohio, you face a wide variety of penalties. In part, these penalties depend on your driving history, including previous OVI convictions:

  • First offense: at least three days in jail, with a driver’s license suspension from six months to three years.
  • Second offense: at least 10 days in jail, with a license suspension of from one to five years.
  • Third offense: at least 30 days in jail, with a driver’s license suspension of from one to 10 years.

If you’ve been arrested for OVI, contact an Ohio OVI attorney who can assess the facts of your case and inform you of your legal options. An OVI and criminal defense lawyer can help determine if field testing and breathalyzer tests were properly administered in your case.