Are DUI sobriety checkpoints legal? An Ohio Court of Appeals recently addressed the legality and requirements for police to use sobriety check points. The Court pointed out that the police (who arrested and successfully prosecuted a guy who was arrested at one of these checkpoints) were following a specific written policy that required: proper warning signage at 750 feet, 500 feet, and 250 feet from the entrance to the checkpoint, sufficient illumination, staffing by a specific number of uniformed police officers with marked police cars, a location that was visible to persons driving up to and by, and a specific location based on data related to OVI arrest and crash locations, history and prevalence. Further, the cars were stopped based on a method pre-determined by an administrative officer.
The Court of Appeals pointed out that a number of appellate courts had already found that sobriety checkpoints that follow a similar specific written protocol (like the one set forth above) did not unreasonably intrude on privacy - and were therefore legal.
So, the conclusion here is that if you can readily see the checkpoint from a distance (because of signage and all of the cops and cop cars) in an area known for bars and restaurants and fender-benders, the checkpoint is most likely legal for the cops to have. We will continue to monitor this area of DUI law - especially in light of the fact that the Ohio Supreme Court has yet to rule on this issue - so stay tuned. Store our number in your cell phone for any future emergency use: 800-529-1966.