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Roadblocks to a happy Thanksgiving weekend

Driving home from time spent with friends and family during the Thanksgiving weekend, people likely faced heavier than usual traffic on the Ohio streets, and may also have found themselves facing a DUI checkpoint.

According to the Ohio State Bar Association, these legal traffic stops allow law enforcement to stop vehicles and ask drivers whether they have been drinking or using drugs. During that brief interaction, if an officer develops a reasonable suspicion that the driver may be impaired, he or she can require a field sobriety test and/or breath test. These tests are often effective at identifying those with a blood alcohol content near or above the legal limit of 0.08 percent. If the signifiers are there, the driver may be charged with Operating a Vehicle under the Influence. It is not against the law for a driver who becomes aware of a DUI roadblock to perform a legal maneuver to avoid being stopped and questioned. However, an illegal U-turn may lead to an additional traffic ticket.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol explains that the public should receive notification of the checkpoint about a week ahead of time. This does not have to be specific, though, and may not pinpoint the exact intersection or time of day that the roadblock will be in place. However, any site that is chosen must have a history of crashes and other incidents involving alcohol-impaired drivers.

At some checkpoints, officers stop each vehicle that comes through, but in other set-ups, they may only stop every other vehicle, every fifth vehicle, or some other number. This is determined based on how many vehicles are traveling through the area. If stopping every car would cause a significant traffic delay, or if it would compromise the safety of the people in the area, the supervisor in charge may change the frequency of the stops.

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