Many clients have had the unfortunate luck of driving through DUI checkpoints in Cleveland and ending up with a DUI charge. This page is to give you some guidance on what happens at a DUI checkpoint and, if you’re fortunate enough to be reading this as your friend drives through a checkpoint, to give you some options to consider.
What Happens at a DUI Checkpoint in Ohio?
No attorney can advise you to break the law or violate administrative sections of the law. However, you need to be advised on what will happen to you depending on what choices you make. First, the police use the field sobriety tests to determine (1) if you are intoxicated, and (2) if they can they force you to take the breath/blood/urine test.
Many of our clients take the field sobriety test, realize they are under the influence, and then refuse the breath test not knowing that they have still probably given the prosecutor enough to convict them with.
If you refuse a field sobriety test, the police are likely going to charge you with a refusal. However, the prosecutor will also have a hard time proving you were DUI. Why? The field sobriety test provides proof you are intoxicated. The breathalyzer test proves your blood level is over a certain limit.
If you are convicted, the first time, you can have your license suspended for 6 months up to 3 full years. The police are going to make a very big deal about the fact that if you take the breath test you “will only lose your license for 90 days but if you refuse you will lose it for a year.”
What they fail to mention is that you could lose it for three full years after you get convicted by taking a breath test. If you prevail on your DUI / OVI case, there is a very good chance that the one-year license suspension goes away. This is why information is powerful.
You should make your decisions based on all the facts. Not just what the police want you to know.
What to Do at DUI Checkpoints in Cleveland
Sometimes, clients tell us they were arrested after going through a DUI checkpoint. They often ask what they should have done and what the consequences are. Most people are not aware that they can avoid the checkpoints altogether, that they can refuse the field sobriety tests, and that they can refuse the breath test.
You must identify yourself, but you do not need to talk about where you were or where you are going. You do not need to talk about how much you have had to drink, or how drunk you are. Invoke your right to an attorney and call our Cleveland DUI lawyers for help right away.
Three Questions to Ask About Your DUI Checkpoint
Was the checkpoint properly advertised? Were there proper signs?
DUI checkpoints are heavily regulated. They are essentially the government coming in, without probable cause, and stopping citizens and searching them.
Because of this, most courts look skeptically upon DUI checkpoints when a DUI attorney raises the proper challenge. There are several ways to challenge a checkpoint. Unfortunately, most people do not know how to fight these.
Can they prove it is a high DUI area?
One thing the prosecution, or government, has to prove is that the area the police set up the DUI checkpoint was a high DUI arrest area. The police cannot just pick any area to stop ordinary citizens. There are several very strict steps that they have to follow before they can start arresting people.
What do you do at the checkpoint?
You must treat the police with respect. However, you have no obligation to comply with the police. You must identify yourself, but you do not need to talk about where you were or where you are going.
You do not need to talk about how much you have had to drink, or how drunk you are. You need to remain silent at a DUI checkpoint, you have that right, invoke it.
Can the Police Stop You for Avoiding DUI Checkpoint?
Some people, upon being confronted with a DUI checkpoint, will turn around before entering the checkpoint. How you avoid the checkpoint will determine whether an officer can lawfully detain you for doing so.
So, can the police stop you because you avoided a DUI checkpoint? Possibly! If you turn before entering the checkpoint and do so in a normal, sober manner, the police have no basis upon which to stop you.
If, however, you attempt to leave the checkpoint after entering, the officer may be able to stop you. Likewise, if you commit a traffic violation while attempting to avoid the checkpoint, an officer may also be able to stop you.
Assuming you turned before entering the checkpoint and obeyed all traffic laws, any subsequent stop may have been unreasonable. If you are facing charges after attempting to avoid a checkpoint, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who can protect you from unfounded charges.
Arrested at a DUI Checkpoint in Cleveland?
We at Patituce & Associates, LLC understand how difficult these cases can be on our clients, and let’s be honest: if you are already searching for information on DUI checkpoints in Cleveland, you are well aware of all of the problems associated with a DUI arrest. Even a first DUI can have stiff penalties.
If you are stopped at a DUI checkpoint or pulled over, make sure you are ready to invoke your right to an attorney. Be firm in your request to have an attorney present. But also remember to be polite and decline to answer questions other than your name, social security number, and home address.