‘Tis the season for holiday parties, meaning ’tis the season for frequent DUI stops. Police will be on the lookout for drunk drivers, and are likely to set up OVI checkpoints this season. Despite what you may have heard, police officers are not prone to let drivers they suspect of driving under the influence off easy due to Christmas spirit — they’re just as likely to arrest you as any other time of the year. Penalties for an OVI are significant, with a required three day jail sentence that could extend up to 180 days and up to a $1,075 fine — and that’s just the first offense. The second offense carries a 10-day minimum sentence and a 1-5 year suspension of your driver’s license. Penalties continue to increase after that.
Police must announce a checkpoint ahead of time, and it will often be mentioned on the local media’s website. Usually, the reports will say where the checkpoints will be, and what hours they will be operational. However, you have to be vigilant, and if you’re not looking for news about checkpoints, it’s easy to miss. Checkpoints are frequently at night, but Ohio police also have them during the day. Earlier this month, a checkpoint on South High Street was held from noon to 4 p.m., and snagged two OVI arrests and 11 other citations. The checkpoints tend to be more frequent during holiday seasons, especially for holidays known for alcohol consumption, like New Years.
Even at a checkpoint, you can refuse a field sobriety test or breath test. Your refusal will lead to an automatic suspension of your license for a year. However, it will also deny prosecutors an important piece of evidence they could use against you.
A positive test will not automatically mean a conviction, just as refusing a test does not automatically mean you’ll go free. In either situation, an experienced Columbus DUI defense attorney can help argue your case, and fight evidence. There are also specific procedures police must go through, and many ways for your rights to be violated. An attorney will fight for your rights.
The best way to ensure a safe holiday is to make sure to use a designated driver or to call a cab. But if you wind up being arrested for drunk driving charges, our attorneys are here to help you.