The Infamous Checkpoint
Photo by Daniel Smyth
Once you walk through the doors of Jeffrey Meadows’ law firm, chances are, you’ve already been charged with driving under the influence. Although everyone knows the risks and dangers of driving while intoxicated, not everyone heeds these warnings. The infamous DUI checkpoint, for example, can often be responsible for successfully getting drunk drivers off the roads – but not everyone arrested at these points deserves the charges they face.
“If you see a checkpoint coming up, you should immediately begin getting out your license and proof of insurance so that it’s ready to hand the officer when you pull up,” says Meadows. “Any delay or fumbling – like if your license is stuck to the plastic screen in your wallet – can be perceived as alcohol-related impairment.” He also advises that individuals pulling through checkpoints be careful as to how much they speak, or what they say, since any stuttering or slurring of speech can also be interpreted as impairment.
For drivers that decide to duck out of the checkpoint via an escape route – and there legally must be a way to avoid the checkpoint – there are other dangers.
“Most checkpoints have a roving patrol designed to catch the cars that are avoiding the checkpoint,” says Meadows. “From the first sign notifying drivers of a DUI checkpoint, there has to be an alternative route available that bypasses the checkpoint and doesn’t restrict traffic. But this is where you have a roving circle of officers looking to pull everyone ducking out of the checkpoint for silly things like burnt out lights or driving onto the painted lines on either side of the road.”
In the end, the only way to safely pass through a checkpoint is simply to not be drunk or to have a designated driver. Meadows says the best way to do this is to keep track of drinks and the amount of time in which they were consumed.
“If you absolutely have to drive, then keep track and do the math on your alcohol,” he says. “Determining if you’re over the limit before you get in the car is important.” He also adds that, if a designated driver is having “a few” as well, no matter what they say, they aren’t fit to be a designated driver.
If a driver in a DUI checkpoint gives an officer probable cause to believe he’s driving while impaired, whether through the smell of alcohol or the sight of an open container, they’re going to be asked out of the car. In this case, though, Meadows says it’s not always the best idea to participate in the field sobriety test.
“The problem with field sobriety tests is that none of them fully judge your ability to drive a car,” he says. “Counting and alphabet reciting tests can be arbitrary – I have a lot of clients who made the mistake of telling the cop, ‘I couldn’t do that sober,’ which, of course, is interpreted as an implication of intoxication.”
To help individuals avoid getting behind the wheel when impaired or over the limit, Meadows launched TEST or ARREST three years ago. The company creates small, disposable breathalyzers that help drivers identify their alcohol levels before they decide to get in the car. It was recognized as one of the “Best New Products” at a convention in Las Vegas that was aimed at bars and clubs. He says his vision for the product would be to have them available to purchase in bars, nightclubs and restaurants as consumers are preparing for the trip home. This would help individuals know they are over the limit before they need to look up Meadows’ law firm to help them fight their OVI charge.
Meadows Law Firm is located at 5900 West Chester Road, Suite F, West Chester, OH 45069. You can reach them at 513.860.5533, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website at www.meadowslawfirm.com.