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Are DUI Roadblocks legal?

If you've ever traveled Ohio highways during a holiday season, you may have had to unexpectedly stop your vehicle because police had set up a roadblock. Sometimes, these DUI checkpoints can cause traffic to backup for miles. You may even have had the fleeting thought to survey your surroundings to see if there was a way to get around the roadblock without stopping. Like most Ohio motorists, you likely decided against that and stayed in line with all the other cars, waiting for your turn to talk to police.

You have certain personal rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. The Fourth Amendment seems to pertain to this type of situation. In this section of the Constitution, you are protected against unlawful searches and seizures. This is why police in all states need valid cause and authoritative permission to search your car, your person or your house.

That said, are DUI roadblocks legal?

Is it really okay for police to randomly pull you over when you have done absolutely nothing while driving to warrant reasonable suspicion? If you have wondered this or similar questions, you are probably not the only one in the state to do so. The following list has been comprised to provide you with basic facts about DUI checkpoints:

  • So many people wondered whether police roadblocks were legal that the issue made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • In 1990, the high court ruled that DUI checkpoints were legal, and setting up roadblocks to stop random drivers was a lawful practice for police. 
  • When a police officer waves you down and stops you at a DUI roadblock, he or she is technically seizing your vehicle since you are not free to continue driving away from the scene until the police officer says you may do so.
  • Unreasonable intrusion upon a motorist in order to carry out a search or seizure may deem any evidence obtained during the process inadmissible in court.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the state's need to prevent drunk driving outweighs the minimal intrusion a DUI checkpoint creates.

It's crucial to remember that even though you may be legally bound to stop at a police roadblock, it does not necessarily mean you going to jail if officers wind up filing DUI charges against you (or some other criminal charge). In fact, you may be able to avoid conviction or convince a judge to dismiss your case. You may increase your chances of doing so if you act alongside experienced representation in court.

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