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Ohio sobriety checkpoints Police Roadblocks Can Trap Drinking Drivers

Sometimes Ohio police put up roadblocks or sobriety checkpoints to catch drunk drivers, says an Attorney.

Roadblocks are usually set up in locations where it is extremely difficult to avoid them, and there is an area where the police can interrogate people and issue tickets. There may be any of several stated purposes for the roadblock, such as to check for license and registration verification, possession of insurance, proof of citizenship, and seatbelt usage. However, the primary purpose is often to look for drunk drivers.

The Constitutional Issue for Roadblocks

Police roadblocks raise significant legal issues, and the law regarding roadblocks is not particularly clear.

The constitutional problem with sobriety checkpoints is that the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. Stopping your car is a seizure, so to be constitutionally acceptable the stop must not be unreasonable.

Not All Sobriety Checkpoints Are Legal

The law about whether or not the police have sufficient probable cause for a roadblock is extremely complicated, and can depend on the situation of the local police and their roadblock.

Courts have been reluctant to be too specific about the requirements for roadblocks, and the United States Supreme Court avoided ruling on the constitutionality of roadblocks or sobriety checkpoints until 1990.

The Supreme Court has verified that roadblocks are seizures so that the Fourth Amendment requirement for reasonableness is applicable. It has also said that seizures are generally unreasonable unless they are supported by probable cause or by “individualized suspicion” of wrongdoing, such as a suspicion that someone in the car has committed a crime.

However, there are exceptions to this rule, such as roadblocks near a border to screen for “illegal immigrants.”

Get Help From an Experienced Attorney

If you were stopped at a sobriety checkpoint, you will want to find an experienced drunk driving defense lawyer to help you.

If you are not already represented by an  lawyer, get our evaluation of your case by completing the short Case Evaluation Form to the left. Or, you may contact us at:

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Trial Strategy
Client Testimony
Cross-Examination of the Arresting Officer on Field Sobriety Tests
Closing Arguments
Frequently Asked Questions