Driving under the influence, commonly known as a DUI, is a serious crime. In an attempt to catch more inebriated people on the streets, police often set up DUI checkpoints along busy roads. These checkpoints can slow traffic down to a crawl, and cause quite a bit of stress for drivers heading home after a night at the bar.
There are set guidelines police departments must follow in order to set up a DUI checkpoint that vary from state to state. One requirement is that the police department must advertise the checkpoint up to a week ahead of time, and the exact times and location a few hours before it is set up. This is done so that, if a driver does not actively choose to avoid the known checkpoint, they have implicitly consented to participating in the checkpoint.
You may ask yourself then, if the police are required by law to announce the DUI checkpoints ahead of time, should I be allowed to do so as well? In 2014, one Doug Odolecki followed that same way of thinking, and stood on a street corner ahead of a Parma, Ohio DUI checkpoint with a sign that read, “Check point ahead! Turn now!”
Police approached Odolecki, first requesting that he remove the portion of the sign telling motorists to turn, claiming that it obstructed police business. When Odolecki refused, he was issued a ticket and his sign was confiscated.
Odolecki was given the maximum sentence of 90 days in jail for obstruction after his 2016 hearing, but his attorney announced his plans to appeal the conviction. In a phone interview, he stated that “The judge far exceeded her authority today…It’s clear she had her mind made up to sentence Doug to the maximum sentence possible, but she actually went overboard.”
Both Odolecki and his attorney believe that Odolecki was acting within his First Amendment rights, but seeing that the courts ruled against him in this case, both Odolecki and his attorney will need to wait for the appeals process in order to argue their case again.
This case makes it apparent that while the act of warning itself will likely not be considered a crime, police officers may not hesitate to find a way to stop you from doing so. Like in most situations, if you are warning oncoming drivers of an upcoming DUI checkpoint, if a police officer approaches you and asks you to stop doing so, the best way to avoid an issue is to comply.
If you were arrested for warning drivers of an upcoming DUI checkpoint, you can expect a fight in court. In cases like this, it’s important to have a qualified DUI attorney on your side. Koffel Brininger Nesbitt is one of the leading privately retained DUI law firms in Ohio, and for years our firm has been selected as one of the “Best Law Firms in America” by U.S. News. Don’t enter a fight for your freedom without the help you deserve. Call us today, or contact us through our website.