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Are drunk driving checkpoints legal in Missouri?

On Behalf of | Mar 4, 2022 | Drunk Driving

Alcohol has a known negative impact on people’s driving skills. Too much alcohol makes it harder for people to focus on traffic safety and increases their reaction times. Drinking can also lead to people dozing off or making really bad decisions at the wheel. Additionally, alcohol may result in erratic maneuvers that other drivers can’t predict.

Missouri police officers are always on the lookout for drunk drivers, and they will arrest and charge anyone who displays signs of impairment or fails a chemical test. Drivers convicted of impaired driving offenses will face jail time, fines and the suspension of their licenses. Usually, these drivers face individual enforcement attempts because they caused a crash or drove in a suspicious manner.

Sometimes, the police will conduct sobriety checkpoints or drunk driving roadblocks. The officers might arrest dozens of people over the legal limit in a single night if they conduct a sobriety checkpoint on a busy street.  Are these large-scale enforcement operations legal in Missouri?

Missouri does currently permit sobriety checkpoints

Although a number of states have banned sobriety checkpoints, Missouri has not taken that step yet. Lawmakers have introduced a state bill that could potentially lead to a change in law, but voters will have to approve it after the legislature does. In the meantime, sobriety checkpoints remain legal across the state.

However, there has been a reduction in the funding allocated for such checkpoints, meaning that law enforcement agencies are less likely to conduct them. They may instead simply have more officers out on traffic patrol at times when drunk driving rates are likely higher than average.

You can defend against a checkpoint-related charge

If a driver does encounter a checkpoint, they will typically not have the option of challenging the legality of the traffic stop unless the police department makes a mistake in how it conducts the checkpoint.

Still, a legal checkpoint doesn’t guarantee a conviction. Just because you got stopped and then arrested at a legal sobriety checkpoint does not inherently mean that you must plead guilty. There are still options for a defense, ranging from challenging the chemical test results to providing an explanation for why you failed the test.

Learning more about your rights after you encounter a sobriety checkpoint may inspire you to mount a rigorous defense.

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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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