General Facts About Indiana’s OWI Checkpoints You Must Know.

Many states do not use OWI (aka DUI) checkpoints, but they are still used throughout Indiana. For example, nine checkpoints have been used in Hamilton County over the last four years. These resulted in 19 OWI arrests and charges.

According to a recent study done in Indianapolis, OWI checkpoints are found to be highly effective when it comes to reducing drunk driving charges in most downtown areas and may significantly reduce alcohol-related accidents.

That said, OWI checkpoints in Indiana continue to be used. Therefore, you must understand how these checkpoints work and your rights when you’re stopped by one.

Usually, OWI checkpoints in Indiana are done by the police, who put up a temporary roadblock to divert cars through a barrier that’s supervised and manned by local law enforcement. The police will commonly stop everyone but inspect some specific drivers and possibly their vehicles.

Most people believe that these OWI checkpoints are solely intended to identify impaired or drunk drivers; however, the police also may be looking for other types of illegal activity. Therefore, although no possible criminal offense is “off the table,” commonly, the authorities may also be looking for drugs or undocumented immigrants.

You also may believe that checkpoints in Indiana are illegal, but they’re not. That said, there still are specific rules, regulations, and guidelines the police must follow when using this screening method and screening for impaired drivers.

The following are some of the limitations and guidelines the authorities must use to ensure that any arrest or citation they may impose is valid.

The checkpoint must;

  • Only be used as a temporary operation.
  • The entire operation must be done within a reasonable time.
  • The checkpoint must be publicized before it is set up and used.
  • The stops should only be made within a short time.
  • Adequate safety measures must be maintained.
  • The authorities and police must be clearly identifiable.
  • The entire operation must be done in a neutral, fair, and predictable manner.

If I’m Stopped At an OWI Checkpoint, What Are Some Of My Rights?

Being stopped at an OWI checkpoint may be a nerve-wracking experience, but your skilled and experienced Anderson OWI lawyer will always explain that you have rights when you’re stopped and need to know them.

Just some of the rights you must know if you’re stopped at an OWI checkpoint are;

  • Without cause, you should never be stopped for an unreasonable amount of time. The Indiana courts have found that any lengthy stop is intrusive and is, therefore, not permitted. At OWI checkpoints in Indiana, you should only be stopped between 30 seconds and two minutes unless there is a substantial reason to detain you further.
  • You have the full right not to answer any questions from the police or the authorities.
  • When you are stopped, the police may ask you or your passengers where you’re going and why; you can refuse to answer. Usually, questions like your name, date of birth, current address, registration, etc., should be answered, but no more.
  • You always have the right to refuse a field sobriety test. The officer may think, and sound, like you have no choice in taking the test, but that is not true.
  • You do not have to submit to have your vehicle searched. Your 4th Amendment right is to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, and this right covers checkpoint stops. However, if the police have probable cause to believe that you are involved in criminal activity or arrest you, they usually may search your car under the law.

There are other regulations and laws the police must follow, and if you are stopped and charged, your experienced, empathetic OWI law team will always ensure that all these legalities are followed; if not, your case could be dismissed.

What Must I Do At An OWI Checkpoint in Indiana?

First, you must note that if you see a checkpoint coming up or are even in line to go through it, avoiding it is not usually illegal. However, you should know what to expect.

Not all vehicles will be stopped and checked, and the police generally only contain a small fraction of the cars in line. When stopped, the police can ask a few questions, review your registration, and analyze your actions, body language, etc., to determine if you have been drinking and driving.

For example, they may ask for name, DOB, address, driver’s license, and registration. These are commonly not unreasonable and usually will take only a few minutes of your time.

Avoiding a negative interaction with law enforcement is always in your best interests. Therefore, you should slow down as you enter the checkpoint and provide the police with their reasonable requests (such as driver’s license, registration, etc.) Give them these items voluntarily and respectfully, but keep it simple and never volunteer any additional information, such as you’ve been drinking.

If you are arrested, do not resist. Get the professional, knowledgeable help you need immediately and call your Indianapolis OWI defense attorney as soon as possible.

What Can My OWI Lawyer Do To Defend My OWI Checkpoint Arrest?

Suppose you are arrested in Indiana at an OWI checkpoint. In that case, your experienced Indianapolis OWI defense lawyer will always be able to determine the basis and best way to defend your case. Each case differs, however, and so do the circumstances. However, the sooner your OWI defense lawyer knows about your case, the better they can “get ahead” of the prosecution and begin your defense.

You can always spend your day in court to defend your charges if your arrest was not legitimate.

The Indiana courts consider numerous factors when enforcing OWI checkpoint laws and arrests. Some items they may consider are;

  • Why was the checkpoint done in that specific location?
  • Were you stopped using a neutral and unbiased process?
  • How long did your stop take?
  • Were you able to clearly identify the checkpoint and the police?
  • Was this checkpoint announced and publicized before it was set up, and was it avoidable?

The first thing your thorough and well-versed OWI defense lawyer will do is ensure that the police or the checkpoint did not violate either your rights under federal or state law. If your rights were violated, the checkpoint rules were not followed, etc., your arrest may be thrown out of court.

Your empathetic and knowledgeable OWI lawyer will explain that you must pay attention to as much detail as possible at a checkpoint stop.

It’s also vital to note that, in Indiana, if you don’t interfere with the police officers doing what they must, you can record your entire checkpoint incident. Every detail matters, especially recordings when you work on your defense with your OWI law team.

I Was Arrested At an OWI Checkpoint in Indiana; What Should I Do?

Remember that time is not on your side if you are stopped and arrested at an OWI checkpoint. An OWI charge (or worse) can penalize you harshly and, at times, be a life-changing event.

It is always in your best interest to obtain the counsel of a skilled, caring, and OWI defense lawyer as soon as possible.

The OWI and criminal justice lawyers at Beeman Heifner Benge P. A. have a long and successful history of defending OWI checkpoint stops and the legal knowledge, experience, and resources to win your case.

Call them today at (765) 234-8024 for a free consultation on your case, and they will immediately work to protect your future, your rights, and your freedom.