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Understanding sobriety checkpoints

The summer months are a peak period for drinking and driving, according to law enforcement. High school and college students who are out of school, families who are on vacation and people who are celebrating holidays such as Independence Day and Labor Day often include alcohol in their festivities.

While there is nothing wrong with responsibly drinking during a holiday or vacation, many people in Missouri and elsewhere will face drunk driving charges during the summer months. It is also possible to get a DUI even while sober, especially if a law enforcement officer suspects a driver is intoxicated during a sobriety checkpoint inspection or traffic stop.

Law enforcement commonly holds sobriety checkpoints during holiday periods in states that allow them, explains FindLaw. Officers stop vehicles in a predetermined order to check the drivers for signs of intoxication. They often conduct field sobriety tests during sobriety checkpoint stops. Naturally, many drivers will want to avoid sobriety checkpoints, even if they are sober. The following suggestions may be helpful regarding these checkpoints:

  • It may help to research online before a holiday to find out where sobriety checkpoints will be.
  • It is permissible to turn onto a different street or make a lawful U-turn to avoid a checkpoint, but an illegal U-turn or erratic driving can arouse suspicion and prompt an officer to pull over the driver.
  • Drivers should not argue or backtalk with officers or make erratic or sudden movements, which may trigger a vehicle search or arrest

Although sobriety checkpoints are permissible in Missouri, some people argue that they infringe on drivers' rights and can result in sober drivers receiving false arrests for intoxication. It is important for drivers to understand that the law entitles them to a fair and competent defense, regardless of whether they had been drinking at the time of their arrest.

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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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