Sobriety Checkpoints in Missouri

At a sobriety checkpoint, police officers stop drivers at some regular interval whereby the drivers are briefly detained and those suspected of intoxication are assessed for signs of intoxication and impairment. Police officers do not have unfettered discretion to stop every driver at a checkpoint. There must be an established pattern for stopping motorists. However, the police do not need reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle at a sobriety checkpoint in Missouri. These checkpoints can be set up at any time though they are common during weekends, holidays, late nights and early morning hours.

For an arrest made at a sobriety checkpoint in Missouri to be deemed lawful, the police must adhere to the right procedures when setting up a checkpoint.

Sobriety Checkpoint Requirements

A sobriety checkpoint in Missouri is supervised by senior law enforcement officers who are responsible for making all the key decisions such as the location to set up a checkpoint and procedures to be followed. Junior officers cannot make important decisions regarding a checkpoint and can only set up a checkpoint with the permission of a supervisor.

The officers at a sobriety checkpoint in Missouri are required to comply with the procedures established by supervisors so that the exercise runs smoothly without any motorist feeling discriminated or profiled in any manner. Besides, proper procedures will enable field officers to handle the stop with fettered discretion.

Law enforcement officers are supposed to notify the public of an upcoming sobriety checkpoint. However, they are not required to give details of the exact location where the checkpoint will be set up. Besides, the police are obligated to abide by safety guidelines when administering a sobriety checkpoint. There must be clear signs that indicate to motorists that they are entering a sobriety checkpoint. At least some field officers should be in uniform with marked patrol cars with flashing lights.

Sobriety checkpoints in Missouri are meant to be conducted within the shortest time possible so that they’re not intrusive and inconveniencing to other motorists. Motorists should not be detained any longer than necessary for a quick examination. The checkpoints are not supposed to take up much of a sober driver’s time. In a situation where there is probable cause that a motorist is intoxicated or has violated the law, he or she should be pulled off aside so that other motorists can proceed through the checkpoint.

Although violating the requirements of a sobriety checkpoint in Missouri may render a checkpoint unlawful, a violation of any one requirement does not necessarily result in a violation of the law.

It’s important to note that the police cannot search your vehicle at a sobriety checkpoint in Missouri unless they have probable cause or you give them consent to conduct a search. Moreover, there is no specific law that requires a driver to submit to any sobriety field tests. You may refuse to take a field sobriety test at a random sobriety checkpoint. However, refusal to perform the tests can be used against you. Additionally, refusal to submit to chemical (breath, blood, or urine) tests in Missouri comes with penalties and repercussions such as license suspension and fines.

If you’ve been arrested at a sobriety checkpoint in Missouri, it would be important to consult an experienced defense attorney to ensure your rights are protected.