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Man cited for warning drivers of police checkpoint

By Mark Gillispie

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 06:50 a.m. HST, Jun 19, 2014

CLEVELAND » A suburban Cleveland man says police violated his First Amendment rights to free speech when they cited him for holding a sign warning motorists to turn if they wanted to avoid a drunken-driving checkpoint.

Douglas Odolecki, 43, warned motorists with the sign Friday night in Parma that said: "Check point ahead! Turn now!"

Parma police spokesman Kevin Riley said officers cited Odolecki after he refused to remove the "Turn now!" portion of the sign. Officers had previously consulted with city attorneys to determine if Odolecki violated any laws by displaying the sign, Riley said.

Odolecki plans to fight the citation for obstructing official business.

It's not the first time Odolecki has used the sign or has gotten into trouble because of it. Parma police arrested him in September 2012 for having a knife in his pocket while holding the same sign. He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and was sentenced to community service. Charges of carrying a concealed weapon and obstructing official business were dismissed.

Odolecki has made warning motorists of drunken-driving checkpoints his mission. He says he'll go "anywhere I'm called, anywhere I'm needed, anywhere I see injustice happening."

He said he was a "hell-raiser" as a young man, but has stayed out of trouble the last 24 years. He conceded he has animosity toward police officers because they have hassled him numerous times he says for no reason.

Odolecki said he has used the sign to warn motorists about the checkpoints in his hometown of Parma on at least five occasions, in Columbus and several Cleveland suburbs. He said that since his arrest in 2012, he carries a video camera to record any interactions with police. A video of Friday's incident showed that the officers were polite to him when they issued the citation.

"I bet if I wasn't filming, I would have been in handcuffs," Odolecki said.

Attorney John Gold is representing Odolecki for free. Gold said police must alert the public in advance of setting up a drunken-driving checkpoint and that motorists are permitted to drive around them, which means Odolecki did nothing wrong when he held up the sign.

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eoe wrote:
Typical anti-government, right wing d-bag.
on June 18,2014 | 07:02PM
Knowlege wrote:
how insulting and yet terribly cliche!
on June 18,2014 | 08:19PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
You go Doug, stick it to the man!
on June 18,2014 | 07:07PM
sloturle wrote:
this guy should've been on oahu memorial day weekend
on June 18,2014 | 08:33PM
st1d wrote:
wonder if the d.u.i. drivers even noticed the sign.
on June 18,2014 | 08:43PM
localguy wrote:
If they did the next sign said "Free Beer This Way"
on June 18,2014 | 09:19PM
joshislost wrote:
on June 19,2014 | 07:31AM
kiragirl wrote:
They do but think they are not drunk.
on June 19,2014 | 09:09AM
Eradication wrote:
Yea, that's it. Let's keep drunk drivers on the road and make the cops the bad guys....until one of your friends or family gets killed by someone drinking and driving. How about doing something productive like paying for cab fare for someone to get home safely.
on June 18,2014 | 11:05PM
MillionMonkeys wrote:
Right. Doug thinks he's being clever. Bottom line is, he's making the roads a more dangerous place. If they can ever find an excuse to convict him, he should be sentenced to watch those gruesome driver ed videos PLUS a little jail time to think about all that.
on June 19,2014 | 12:57AM
hikine wrote:
A drunk could kill someone because he was warned to avoid the check-point. Hope he sleeps well when it happens. Check points are not only for drunk drivers as they are also used for drugs, unlicensed drivers and vehicle violations.
on June 19,2014 | 04:35AM
kiragirl wrote:
If the city was serious about drunk driving, they would not issue so many liquor licenses (Korean bars) and stop serving alcohol at especially sporting events such as UH football games. But sales of alcohol are revenue so instead of addressing where alcohol is served, they prefer the political avenue such as check points.
on June 19,2014 | 09:33AM
KaneoheSJ wrote:
kiragirl, this article is based on a situation in Cleveland. This particular incident did not occur in Hawaii.
on June 19,2014 | 11:12AM
kiragirl wrote:
Yes. I read the same article you did.
on June 19,2014 | 11:29AM
dsl wrote:
Era - Cops are the bad guys. They have no interest in protecting people they just want to arrest them. Example-any time you are stopped for a traffic offense, they will ask you if you have been drinking. They ALWAYS check for warrants. Try walking downtown, they are hiding yes HIDING so they can catch jaywalkers (the biggest criminals in the island). Cops are laughable. and no I won't call a cop for anything and no try make guilt trip about when I need a cop this and that. They are for themselves and the fellow cops.
on June 19,2014 | 10:40AM
kiragirl wrote:
It is legal to avoid a check point and the police cannot stop you unless you committed a traffic violation in doing so.
on June 19,2014 | 12:09AM
soundofreason wrote:
True, but do you really want to ENable the guilty causing them to possibly kill another day?
on June 19,2014 | 07:13AM
kiragirl wrote:
I just stated what is legal without prejudice. Not like you.
on June 19,2014 | 07:40AM
Dolphin743 wrote:
Do you want to encourage more opportunities for police to force you into situations where you are required to interact with them? What if they go house to house looking for drugs?
on June 19,2014 | 08:40AM
soundofreason wrote:
Welcome it.
on June 19,2014 | 07:35PM
Jerry_D wrote:
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land, period. And it was written specifically to protect us citizens against a tyrannical government. The First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees us the right to free speech, including the ability to speak out against government. Regardless of whether you agree that it is unethical or not to warn drunk drivers about DUI checkpoints, the Law isn't about what's "right" or what's "wrong." According to the letter of the First Amendment, it can be argued that this guy's Constitutional rights were violated. Hope he wins the lawsuit; otherwise, a dangerous anti-Constitutional precedent could be set for future "freedom of speech" cases.
on June 19,2014 | 07:49AM
AhiPoke wrote:
Like it or not this guy will probably win in court. A court has already ruled that motorists that flash their lights as a means of signaling that a cop is in the area are covered by their first amendment rights to free speech.
on June 19,2014 | 07:55AM
kiragirl wrote:
This is done on the mainland. Wish it was done here because of all the speed traps.
on June 19,2014 | 09:06AM
saveparadise wrote:
Why? Do you drive drunk or speed a lot? Reality check. Drunk driving and speeding laws have a purpose.
on June 19,2014 | 11:02AM
kiragirl wrote:
And you do not speed one iota over the speed limit?
on June 19,2014 | 11:30AM
eastside808 wrote:
If you and the majority of cars around you are traveling 15 miles above the posted speed limit are you speeding? The law says you are, but the reality is the speed you are traveling at may not be fast enough to impair your judgement or ability to react to others or events around you.
on June 19,2014 | 11:30AM
788686 wrote:
yes, you're speeding if going 15 miles over the posted speed limit. And even if you're able to react quickly to a situation, the next driver may not because of talking/texting, drunkedness, speeding (like you), etc., etc.
on June 19,2014 | 11:42AM
kiragirl wrote:
15 mph is a lot over the speed limit but going with the flow of traffic even if a few miles over the speed limit is safer than a slow moving vehicle which all other cars must maneuver around.
on June 19,2014 | 12:05PM
soundofreason wrote:
There was an individual, just recently, that won a major court case on this on the mainland.
on June 19,2014 | 07:36PM
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