Facing DUI charges in Cleveland?

In Ohio, a DUI or OVI offense refers to Operating a Vehicle under the Influence of Alcohol and/or Drugs. The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that DUI checkpoints are legal. Investigations show that in Ohio, vehicle checkpoints primarily issue citations for suspended licenses, but also cover more serious offenses including driving under the influence. “Sobriety checkpoints are used to complement enforcement efforts in reducing alcohol-related crash fatalities and injuries. The principal benefit of a sobriety checkpoint is the deterrent effect on potentially impaired drivers,” said Trooper Brad Sellers of the Ohio Highway Patrol. “By raising awareness of checkpoints [media coverage] the perceived risk of arrest increases and also provides another opportunity to educate people on the dangers of impaired driving. Using a mix of all three components is key to further reducing fatalities. Just last year, a third of all traffic fatalities involved an impaired driver.”


Constitutionality of Vehicle and DUI Checkpoints

In 1990, the U.S. Supreme Court in Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz, decided DUI checkpoints do not violate a person’s Fourth Amendment protection from unreasonable searches and seizures. The Supreme Court provided guidelines for states to apply during these checkpoints. The motorist should only be detained for a minimal length of time. The court determined that for the DUI checkpoint to be constitutional, the court must balance the following factors:

  1. Is there a government interest, for example preventing drunk driving accidents?
  2. Does the checkpoint advance the state interest, have proper guidelines, and limit police discretion to select what vehicles to stop?
  3. Is the intrusion on the motorist slight?

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What To Expect During an OVI Checkpoint

  1. You should not be arrested for avoiding a DUI Checkpoint.
  2. Often the checkpoint will be visible by orange cones and uniformed officers directing traffic.
  3. The officer will approach the driver and evaluate for signs of impairment and either release the vehicle or divert the vehicle to a screening area.
  4. If you are stopped at a DUI Checkpoint, the officials will administer a field sobriety test, including an Alcohol Exam, One-Legged Stand, and Walk and Turn.
  5. If you fail one of these tests, the officer has probable cause that you have broken the law and may arrest you.
  6. If you are arrested, you may be taken to a screening area for additional testing. You do not need to answer the officer’s questions.


Answering Questions from Officers

  • You must answer questions related to identification, insurance, and vehicle registration. You are not required to answer additional officer questions.
  • You should stay calm, remain polite, and be respectful during your interaction with officers.
  • You should not make a movement to reach for items that will put the officers on alert.
  • You may contact your attorney.
  • You may refuse a vehicle search.
  • Do not volunteer additional information or make incriminating statements.


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Declining an OVI or DUI Checkpoint Sobriety Test

The consequences of Declining an OVI or DUI sobriety test depends on prior offenses.

  • No Prior Conviction: Ohio Revised Code 4511.192 (Advice to OVI arrestee) states “If you refuse to take any chemical test required by law, your Ohio driving privileges will be suspended immediately, and you will have to pay a fee to have the privileges reinstated.”
  • With Prior Convictions: Ohio Revised Code 4511.192 (Advice to OVI arrestee) states “If you have a prior conviction of OVI, OVUAC, or operating a vehicle while under the influence of a listed controlled substance or a listed metabolite of a controlled substance under state or municipal law within the preceding twenty years, you now are under arrest for state OVI, and, if you refuse to take a chemical test, you will face increased penalties if you subsequently are convicted of the state OVI.”


Locations for OVI and DUI Checkpoints

Police Department supervisors and/or an OVI Task Force will announce the location, time, and duration of a checkpoint. They should also provide advance warnings to the approaching motorist with signs, flares, and/ or other indications to warn of the stop and demonstrate its official nature as a police checkpoint. The notice will also show the public interest as a reason for the checkpoint. An example would be the following announcement from the City of Dayton Police Department.

The Ohio Policy Number OSP-200.21 delineates guidelines for roadside sobriety checkpoints pertaining to the location and timing for the checkpoint. The guidelines state that the checkpoint must have a “significant history of alcohol-related crashes and impaired driving violations” and “the time of day of the checkpoint must parallel the peak periods of alcohol crash involvement.


Getting Help After OVI or DUI Checkpoint

As you can see, there are numerous considerations when it comes to OVI or DUI checkpoints. If you think you have been part of an unconstitutional checkpoint, or a checkpoint which was not reasonable, you should discuss the case with an attorney experienced with DUI vehicle checkpoints in Ohio. Additionally, if you faced an OVI or DUI checkpoint that resulted in a conviction, you should speak with an attorney experienced with OVI and DUI convictions.

Cleveland, Ohio DUI and OVI Attorney Near You

Stopped at a DUI checkpoint in Ohio? If you are unsure of what to do next and need help navigating the complicated Ohio OVI and DUI laws, contact The Botnick Law Firm today for a free case evaluation. You may be able to keep your license. Call us now to get the help you deserve. An experienced Cleveland DUI lawyer can help get you through this. Contact us today for a FREE consultation.


Process step-by-step

  • 01.
    Initial Arrest

    01. Initial Arrest

    The process to charge someone that’s been accused of a crime begins with an arrest. If the police have reason to believe that someone has committed a crime, the accused can be taken into custody. Police will usually start by asking basic questions like name and address to identify a person, and then they’ll often pivot to more specific questions related to the incident. At some point during this, you should have been read your “Miranda warnings.”

  • 02.
    Reading Your Rights

    02. Reading Your Rights

    You have the right to remain silent to avoid disclosing evidence that could potentially be self-incriminating, as well as the right to an attorney to defend you in court. Those are your unwavering rights that must be recited upon taking someone into custody. Take note of when these rights are read to you, as it could be helpful information for your attorney.

  • 03.

    03. Booking

    When you’ve been taken down to the station, police will fingerprint you and get your photograph to update their records. Once this is done, you should be granted the opportunity to contact your criminal defense lawyer. If you don’t have a lawyer, get a loved one to book a consultation with a lawyer on your behalf. It’s important that you do NOT disclose any details about your case over the phone with your loved ones, as those calls are monitored.

  • 04.

    04. Investigation

    After you’ve made it through the booking process, the police may begin conducting their investigation with you. Depending on the situation, this might include a personal search, collecting samples, interviewing/interrogating, police lineups, etc.

  • 05.
    Court Appearance

    05. Court Appearance

    You’ll be held at the station until you can be brought before a judge. The initial court appearance will happen within 48 hours or less of the arrest. Here, the judge will review the case and decide if there’s any reason to keep you in holding or if bail can be granted. If bail is granted, you’re allowed to be released upon certain conditions.

  • 06.

    06. Hearing

    Depending on the seriousness of your allegations, you may have a preliminary hearing at which a judge can determine whether enough evidence exists to charge you with that level of crime. You’ll be able to plead “guilty” or “not guilty.” If you plead not guilty, your case will be sent to trial. You may get the opportunity to enter a plea deal. That’s something your attorney will advise you on.

  • 07.

    07. Discovery

    In the discovery stage, the case against you is made much more transparent. The prosecutor will share the evidence they have against you with your defense attorney. During this time, your attorney can make additional requests for evidence if need be. All of the evidence on the table will be considered, and your lawyer will work with you to form the best plan for your defense.

  • 08.

    08. Trial

    If a plea deal is unable to be reached, the case will enter trial. During the trial, the prosecutor begins by presenting the case to the jury. They share any evidence they have against you and have witnesses make their statements for the prosecution. This can be tough to sit through. Afterward, it’s your lawyer’s turn to take the stands and share your side of the story. Your lawyer can question the prosecutor’s witnesses and all of the evidence that was used against you. There are many different strategies that your lawyer will use to defend you during the trial.

  • 09.

    09. Sentencing

    In a best-case scenario, you will have been found not guilty by the end of the trial, and the charges against you have been dropped. If you are found guilty, the judge must determine what your sentence/penalties will be. The sentencing will happen at another hearing, usually a few weeks after your trial ends.

Ohio Felony Sentencing

Prison TIme
Maximum Fine
First Degree
3-11 years
Second Degree
2-8 years
Third Degree
9-36 or 12-60 months
Fourth Degree
6-8 months
Fifth Degree
6-12 months

Ohio Misdemeanor Sentencing

Jail Time
Maximum Fine
First Degree
Up to 180 days
Second Degree
Up to 90 days
Third Degree
Up to 60 days
Fourth Degree
Up to 30 days
Minor Misdemeanor

Frequently Asked Questions

What are your rights at a DUI checkpoint in Ohio?

If you are stopped at a DUI checkpoint in Ohio, remain calm. You have the right to remain silent, but be sure to always be polite when responding to an officer’s questions. Be sure to provide ID and insurance when prompted. You do not have to consent to a field sobriety test, but there may be implications to denying the test.

Can you turn around if you see a DUI checkpoint?

Yes, if you are able to make a legal turn before you reach the DUI checkpoint, you are well within your rights to do so. If you make an illegal maneuver, however, this will give the police officers reason to pull you over and may indicate to them that you have been driving while intoxicated.

Are sobriety checkpoints legal in Ohio?

Yes, sobriety checkpoints have been deemed legal in Ohio. In order to be legal, however, police need to adhere to strict rules and must also announce the checkpoints ahead of time.

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