In State v. Bryson, 142 Ohio App.3d 397, 755 N.E.2d 964 (8th Dist. Cuyahoga County 2001), the Eight District Court of Appeals ruled that making a legal turn to avoid a sobriety roadblock would not constitute reasonable and articulable suspicion to justify the police in making an investigatory stop. Here, the police saw someone turn around rather than go through their checkpoint. They dispatched an officer to pull him over. The court found that the officer was not justified in taking such an action. Among the justifiable reasons that a person may wish to avoid the roadblock included a) fear of police/authority; b) a desire to avoid the waste of time and “hassle” of a roadblock and c) resentment of the roadblock itself.
This blog has taken a position that the deterrent effect of a sobriety checkpoint is not worth the harm caused by abandoning the “probable cause” standard that is a cornerstone of American jurisprudence. What is all the more outrageous is that the checkpoints are not as effective as saturation patrols which safeguard the probable cause standards set forth in our Constitution. Sobriety checkpoints generally have arrest rates of around 1% of all drivers detained. No one is in favor of drunk driving and even one death from drunk driving is tragic. What we cannot justify, however, is a policy that undermines our values (in theory) and fails to achieve its purpose (in practice).