Robert R. Hart, Jr., Attorney at Law
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The legality of DUI checkpoints

Throughout the year, law enforcement agencies in Ohio may set up DUI checkpoints. These are designed to drivers who are impaired by alcohol or drugs. In many cases, the checkpoints are set up on major roadways during certain holidays when alcohol is common, such as Labor Day weekend.

DUI checkpoints have been challenged in court. Even though federal law fully supports the checkpoints, their legality is often still questioned in the states in which they are still legal. These DUI checkpoints were ruled to be legal in 1990 when the U.S. Supreme Court determined that the states' interest in reducing and eradicating drunk driving outweighed drivers' privacy concerns. The effectiveness of the DUI checkpoints are backed by statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as studies show that they reduce alcohol-related accidents by about 20 percent.

Even though they are legal under federal law, 12 states have made DUI checkpoints illegal. This is either because the checkpoints are considered to be illegal under the state's constitution or because the state does not have the authority to conduct the checkpoints. In some states where DUI checkpoints are legal, officers must reasonably suspect that the driver is intoxicated before they can initiate a traffic stop.

Even a first-offense drunk driving charge can have serious impacts. Depending on the circumstances, a person accused of drunk driving could face jail time, lose his or her driver's license and be required to pay a hefty fine. However, there are several defense strategies that could reduce the charges or result in a dismissal of the case altogether. For example, a criminal defense attorney could in some cases argue that the breath test machine was improperly calibrated.

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