The rules for OVI checkpoints in Cincinnati
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The rules for OVI checkpoints in Cincinnati

As the weather warms up, most of us in Cincinnati will begin going out and socializing more. The Reds’ season has begun, and soon it will be Memorial Day, with the Fourth of July not far behind. Cookouts, ballgames and parties tend to have one thing in common: alcohol.

Don’t be surprised if you start seeing police checkpoints on the roads this spring and summer. Authorities get especially aggressive in pursuing OVI arrests during holidays and around likely drinking locations like bars and ballparks. OVI checkpoints are one of the tools in the law enforcement arsenal. It allows the police to check passing motorists for evidence they are impaired by drugs or alcohol without having to observe signs of impairment first.

Are OVI checkpoints really legal?

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1990 that DUI checkpoints do not violate the Fourth Amendment. Still, police departments must follow specific guidelines:

  • The department must announce the checkpoint’s time and location ahead of time
  • The site should be picked because it serves public safety
  • The checkpoint must be visible from far enough away that drivers have time to stop
  • The police’s presence at the site should be obvious
  • Officers should be trained in field sobriety tests and impairment detection
  • The checkpoint should not cause more than minimal inconvenience and intrusion to motorists who pass through it

Despite knowing these rules, the police don’t always follow them. They might set up in a hidden area or fail to administer field sobriety tests correctly. Whatever the violation might be, if you can show the judge that your right against unreasonable search and seizure was violated, you might get the charges against you dropped or reduced.