Police say Painesville checkpoint focuses on drunk drivers only, small group question motive

OVI checkpoint file image.
Posted at 10:18 PM, Aug 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-19 23:18:18-04

A drinking and driving checkpoint got extra attention Saturday night in Painesville.

While police say they’re out to stop drunk drivers, others feared it could target another group of people.

Members of the Hispanic Organization of Lake and Ashtabula Counties were keeping an eye on the check point, hoping police aren’t going out of their way to crackdown on undocumented immigrants.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol and Painesville police set up an OVI checkpoint at Richmond and Nebraska Roads.

Police said it’s only purpose was to deter drinking and driving.

But, others said the checkpoint raises eyebrows.

That’s because the checkpoint is in a heavily Hispanic neighborhood known as Little Mexico, because of its rich culture.

Some worry the checkpoint could turn out to be an illegal immigrant crackdown.

If someone is stopped without a driver’s license and is undocumented, they could be deported within days.

A group calling itself “civil rights observers” watched the checkpoint.

Last month, Beatrice Morelos, a Painesville mother of four was deported to Mexico.

She was arrested during a traffic stop for not having a driver’s license.

Immigration officials found she was an undocumented immigrant and deported her.

She lived in Painesville for 17 years.

As immigration officials strictly enforce the law in recent months, those watching the check point hope this area is being targeted for only drunk drivers. 

"Our primary goal is to deter people from drinking and driving, and that's why were are out here," said Lieutenant Charles Gullett with the Ohio State Highway Patrol Chardon Post.

Gullett said they are not lookinng for undocumented immigrants. 

The checkpoint ended with no one being arrested.