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OVI Dismissed Due to Unconstitutional OVI Checkpoint

dui ovi checkpoint dismissed

In a recent Ohio case, the defendant was stopped at a DUI checkpoint.  While stopped, an officer became suspicious that the driver may be under the influence and directed the driver to a separate area.  The driver was then arrested and charged with OVI.  

But because the Ohio State Highway Patrol failed to follow its own procedures in establishing the checkpoint (i.e. providing crash and OVI data related to the checkpoint location), the stop was found to be unconstitutional and the OVI will be ultimately dismissed. 

dui ovi checkpoint dismissed

DUI Checkpoint Was Unconstitutional

The defendant’s attorney filed a motion to suppress arguing that the DUI checkpoint was unconstitutional because it failed to comply with standards set forth by the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Ohio Supreme Court Has Approved of DUI Checkpoints Under Certain Conditions

Under Ohio law, a DUI checkpoint is considered constitutional only when “there minimally exists:

(1) a checkpoint or roadblock location selected for its safety and visibility to oncoming motorists;

(2) adequate advance warning signs, illuminated at night, timely informing approaching motorists of the nature of the impending intrusion;

(3) uniformed officers and official vehicles in sufficient quantity and visibility to show the police power of the community; and

(4) a predetermination by policy-making administrative officers of the roadblock location, time, and procedures to be employed, pursuant to carefully formulated standards and neutral criteria.”

Goines, 16 Ohio App.3d at 170-171 (emphasis added).

Required Policies & Procedures Were Not Followed in Establishing the Checkpoint

The Ohio State Highway Patrol has a standard policy setting forth the guidelines for establishing a DUI checkpoint.   In order to meet constitutional standards under Goines, these policies and administrative guidelines must be followed.  

First, the proposed checkpoint location “must have a significant history of alcohol-related crashes and impaired driving violations.”

Second, the “time of day of the checkpoint must parallel the peak periods of alcohol crash involvement.”

Here, there was no evidence to support that either guideline was followed.  At the hearing, the officer couldn’t provide any specific numbers or evidence about the number of crashes or OVI arrests that had occurred at the checkpoint location.   In fact, none of the evidence offered at the hearing related at all specifically to the location chosen for the checkpoint.

Because the OSHP policies were not followed in establishing the checkpoint, the stop was found to be unconstitutional.    Thus, all evidence following the stop were excluded from evidence and the OVI charges will be dismissed.

State v. Hirsch, 2014-Ohio-5388