The past few decades have seen our nation increasingly crack down on drunk driving. Ohio (and other states) has passed stricter anti-DUI laws, strengthened punishments for offenders, and increased enforcement—especially during periods with a high occurrence of drunk driving.
DUI Enforcement on Holidays
Of course, the law is enforced year-round. (You can expect to face the penalties of an OVI regardless of the time of year that you are charged.) However, law enforcement does not spend the same amount of time, money, and energy looking for drunk drivers every day of the year; instead, it tends to concentrate its efforts on days that historically have a lot of drinking and driving. These days include holidays, which makes sense: many people celebrate by having a drink (like champagne on New Year’s Eve).
The holidays that see a lot of driving under the influence—and therefore an increased police presence—are New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Independence Day, and (you guessed it) St. Patrick’s Day.
Drinking has long been associated with St. Patrick’s Day, and a lot of people celebrate accordingly. Unfortunately, that day is also associated with a lot of drinking and driving-related injuries and deaths. According to the NHTSA, 276 people were killed during St. Patrick’s Day weekends from 2009 to 2013.
St. Patrick’s Day in Cincinnati
St. Patrick’s Day is a big celebration in Cincinnati for many people. There’s a lot to see and do, including watching the St. Patrick’s Day parade, running a themed 5K, enjoying the festivities in Fountain Square, or having a pint at an Irish pub.
If you are planning on celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this year (or you just plan on being out and about), we encourage you to stay safe and be smart.
If you know that you’ll be drinking, make arrangements for safe transportation beforehand. You might consider doing the following:
- Go with a friend who’s agreed to be a designated driver
- Use public transportation to get around
- Get cash from an ATM to take a taxi
- Download Lyft or Uber and call a ride at the end of the night
- Stay over at a friend’s house instead of driving home
As we mentioned above, you’ll see more law enforcement out on St. Patrick’s Day—so make your travel plans accordingly.
In previous years, law enforcement from the city, county, and state have set up DUI (known as OVI in Ohio) checkpoints throughout Cincinnati to catch drunk drivers. Last year, police officers conducted an OVI checkpoint on Montgomery Rd. on the weekend of St. Patrick’s Day. The checkpoint lasted two hours, with 600 vehicles passing through and two OVI arrests made.
This year, Cincinnati law enforcement are likely to set up another OVI checkpoint. By law, they must publicize the date, time, and location of the checkpoint in advance. (The location should be chosen based on public safety—say, because the road has had a high number of OVI-related car accidents.) They must also make the checkpoint visible from a distance, with the police presence obvious.
In addition to OVI checkpoints, you’re likely to see more police cars on the road.
How to Handle a DUI Checkpoint
This St. Patrick’s Day, if you find yourself on a road with an OVI checkpoint, there are some things you should know to protect your rights:
- It’s perfectly legal to turn around (so long as you obey traffic laws) if you want to avoid the hassle of the checkpoint. However, note that if law enforcement sees you do this, they may become suspicious that you have something to hide—whether you do or not.
- If a police officer asks you to stop at the checkpoint, you must do so. You are not allowed to speed through the checkpoint, and if you do, you’re likely to wind up in a police chase.
- You are required to provide your license, insurance information, and registration when asked for them; however, you can politely decline to answer other questions (like “Where are you headed?” or “How many drinks have you had today?”)
- A police officer must have reasonable suspicion that you’ve been drinking and driving in order to ask you to pull over for field sobriety tests. If he or she doesn’t have reasonable suspicion, but asks you to pull over anyway, this is a violation of your Fourth Amendment Rights.
- You do not have to take field sobriety tests, and it’s not a crime to refuse. However, if you refuse to take a Breathalyzer, this is a crime that carries license suspension as a punishment.
Call Us for Help with an OVI
If you have been arrested for driving while under the influence, it’s important to have strong legal representation—to protect your rights and work toward the best possible outcome in your case.
We’re here to help you. The OVI lawyers at Casper & Casper have years of experience handling cases just like yours in Cincinnati, Hamilton, Middletown, and Dayton. If you’re facing OVI charges, call us today for a free consultation.