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Can you turn around when you see a police checkpoint ahead?

On Behalf of | Aug 9, 2021 | Drunk Driving

Police officers use multiple systems to enforce Missouri impaired driving laws. They practice targeted enforcement by pulling over people whose driving makes them appear impaired. They carefully analyze the behavior of drivers after collisions to determine if drugs or alcohol played a role. They can also engage in broader enforcement attempts by conducting sobriety checkpoints.

Sobriety checkpoints involve police officers effectively stopping all traffic that approaches the roadblock. They briefly interact with each driver to screen them for signs of chemical impairment and detain those who seem to be under the influence of alcohol.

Although some states have banned roadblocks or checkpoints for traffic enforcement purposes, Missouri allows them. If you come around the bend in the road or crest a small hill only to realize there is a sobriety checkpoint up ahead, can you turn around to avoid it?

Traffic and posted rules will affect your options

A checkpoint or roadblock can slow down traffic and lead to big delays for people who need to get somewhere on time. When you spot a line of stopped vehicles in front of you, it’s only natural to want to avoid that delay.

Depending on where you are and how heavy the traffic is, you may be able to maneuver to avoid the sobriety checkpoint. You could turn off on a side street, pull into a business or turn your car around. In theory, u-turns in Missouri are legal provided that they don’t cause issues in traffic and that there are no signs posted stating that they are not allowed at a certain location.

Drivers can complete any legal maneuver that doesn’t endanger themselves or disrupt the flow of traffic to avoid a sobriety checkpoint.

Your driving could make the officers suspect intoxication

While you do have the right to drive away from a sobriety checkpoint, police officers may view your behavior as a sign that you know you had too much to drink. They could follow you from the checkpoint or call other nearby vehicles to have one of them conduct a one-on-one traffic stop with you.

Understanding your rights as a driver in Missouri can help you respond the right way when you spot a sobriety checkpoint ahead.


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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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