We represent hundreds of accused DUI motorists each year arrested in Columbus, Ohio. I meet nearly every client and review all of their tickets, police reports, and our investigator's case report. Over the years, I have reviewed nearly 7,000 DUI arrests from Columbus and the surrounding areas. So, what have I learned about DUI police officers' tactics?
Every police officer or trooper has his or her personal method of "drunk hunting" (a police term used by law enforcement). For example, from the early 1990's to the mid-1990's, the 270 north outerbelt was worked by several aggressive Ohio State Patrol troopers. These troopers focused on I-270 from Sawmill Road to S.R. 3. They would drive their cruisers at high speeds back and forth, jump behind unsuspecting motorists, and monitor their driving for 1/2 mile (about 20-30 seconds). If that particular driver did not weave inside his/her lane or weave outside the lane, the trooper would slingshot around them to another vehicle.
In Reynoldsburg, Ohio it seems as though nearly every DUI arrest occurs around Rosehill and Main St. If you are familiar with this intersection you will know that several local watering holes are within 1 mile of this intersection.
In Grandview, Oh io we see more speeding violations on Dublin Road as predicate offenses to make traffic stops.
The Columbus Police Depa rtment has a platoon of top DUI enforcement officers that aggressively work 315, 670, the Arena District and downtown. These officers (Gilbert, Sowards, Wolfangel, Casimir, Buck, Decker, Hogan, Paden, Banks, Waltermeyer, and Coy) make the overwhelming majority of DUI arrests in Central Ohio.
Currently, the target enforcement areas in Columbus appear to be 315, 670, and the Arena District. The other known DUI enforcement area is US 23 / Polaris area.
Each officer has his or her own method of approaching a vehicle, interviewing the driver, separating the driver from the vehicle, administering field sobriety tests, and decision point on whether or not to to arrest.
Some officers get upset if an arrestee refuses to give a breath sample while others do not seem to care. Certain police officers will almost always book the arrestee into the county jail while others have a tendency to release the arrestee to a cab or responsible third party.
However, I can safely say that 95% of the police officers we deal with on a daily basis are quite easy for us to work with and resolve cases. Only a small fraction take their arrests personally and do not want any type of favorable treatment given to the defendant.
As I tell our clients, "if you were polite and respectful to the police officers that arrested you, they will probably be willing to make a favorable recommendation to the prosecutor".
Other issues that are tied directly to who arrested our clients are items such as whether or not there is a cruiser video system, what field sobriety tests were administered, whether the arrest report is typed or handwritten (we prefer handwritten which will be explained in a subsequent blog in the future), and whether or not the officer is good on the witness stand for the prosecutor.
All in all, most of the arresting officers we encounter in Central Ohio are nice, pretty easy going, and work very hard to remove impaired drivers from the roads. Despite the inherent adversarial relationship between defense attorney and police officer, we appreciate the fact these officers put themselves in harms way on a nightly basis. In fact, I expect to see stepped up DUI patrol in December in memory of Columbus Police Officer Melissa Foster who was killed by a repeat dunk driver on December 6, 2004. Last December, 3 officers made 75 DUI arrests in a 3 week period in her memory.