Motorists in Ohio generally need to follow the law, but they also have a basic right to privacy. There’s a bit of tension between those two ideas, especially if a police officer tries to claim that someone did something in traffic that would put others at risk.
When allegations of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drug (OVI) arise, police officers often seek a combination of personal observations and chemical test results to help build their case. OVI offenses are among the most common charges filed against individuals in Ohio, and many people plead guilty without properly assessing their defense-related options.
Some people can challenge the behavior of the police officer who arrested them. Officers need a justifiable reason to perform a stop and/or breath test and show that someone may have been over the legal limit for their blood alcohol concentration (BAC). When can an Ohio police officer justifiably test someone’s BAC?
After a crash
One of the most common reasons for officers to compel someone to check their BAC is their involvement in a collision. Officers can request testing for everyone involved in a wreck and could potentially arrest someone for failing a test even if the circumstances indicate that the driver wasn’t the one who caused the crash.
During a traffic stop
Police officers may pull someone over because they drive erratically and appear drunk at the wheel. They might also show signs of intoxication when an officer pulls them over for other traffic issues. If someone’s driving or their behavior during a stop gives an officer probable cause, they can request a breath test during a traffic stop.
At a sobriety checkpoint
Ohio police officers can briefly screen dozens of drivers an hour by conducting a sobriety checkpoint. Motorists approaching sobriety checkpoints will have to briefly discuss their situation with police officers. Most people drive through with no issues, but a few motorists will have to pull aside for enhanced screening. When officers suspect someone of intoxication as part of an OVI checkpoint, they can potentially test and then arrest the motorist who appears to be over the legal limit.
Even if officers do have someone perform a breath test, a failed test isn’t automatically proof of impairment. Learning more about how people fight back against OVI charges may benefit those who have been arrested after unexpectedly failing a breath test.