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Evidence of Illegal Sobriety Checkpoints Leads to Dropped Charges

In 1990, the Supreme Court ruled that before conducting a sobriety checkpoint, officials must file a plan that describes how the random vehicles will be chosen. Drivers cannot be stopped because of race or other protected factors. The officials are also generally required to choose every third or fourth vehicle. If that standard isn't adhered to, a sobriety checkpoint is considered illegal.

During 2011, officials in Florida conducted a sobriety checkpoint that should have stopped only every third vehicle. The police video proved that the checkpoint wasn't conducted that way. Officials stopped three to four cars together. After the discrepancy was discovered, 10 officers signed affidavits stating that they followed the original plan. However, the affidavits contradicted the police video recordings. Subsequently, charges were dropped against the drivers held for DUI after evidence showed that the checkpoint was illegal.

Some states prohibit sobriety checkpoints, although federal law considers them legal. But some other states, like Missouri, allow them. Many people pulled over at checkpoints are not aware of their rights and agree to perform sobriety tests. The smallest mistake in the test may indicate the driver is intoxicated, which may lead to more tests and possibly an arrest.

Drivers need to understand that they aren't legally obligated to leave their vehicle to perform the tests. The driver should also understand that only some tests are recognized by the courts, and that many tests are not admissible in court. A person who is convicted of DUI may lose his or her license, job and reputation. As a result, it is vitally important that you contact an experienced DUI attorney after being stopped at a sobriety checkpoint if you are accused of driving under the influence.

Source: 10 News, "Cases dropped after illegal DUI checkpoint," Mike Deeson, Aug. 29, 2012

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Travis Noble is a graduate of the National College for DUI Defense at Harvard University, and he lectures at seminars nationwide on DWI/DUI topics. He is the lawyer whom other lawyers consult to defend their DWI clients. Most importantly, he has a track record of successfully defending some of the toughest DWI cases in Missouri and beyond.

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