Most Missouri drivers have had to deal with the headache and burden of passing through a sobriety checkpoint at least once. Despite the fact that drivers are frequently stopped for a long period of time, the United States Supreme Court and Missouri Supreme Court have upheld sobriety checkpoints as constitutional. To pass constitutional muster, Courts have justified checkpoints from a public interest standpoint. Thus, even when a completely sober driver is “seized” in violation of his or her Fourth Amendment rights, Courts will adamantly claim the stop was unduly burdensome and therefore constitutional.
The U.S. Supreme Court has held that for sobriety checkpoints to be constitutional, proper procedures must be followed. These procedures include: administrative officers of the law enforcement agency determined the location of the checkpoint; the time and location of the checkpoint was adequately publicized to the public; the location was marked with advance warning signs; uniformed officers were present to demonstrate the official nature of the checkpoint; the selection of the motor vehicles was not arbitrary; and the checkpoint was conducted to assure the safety of motorists.
In Missouri and the Greater St. Louis area, sobriety checkpoints are becoming more and more common to detect DWI cases. If you are stopped at a checkpoint, you have a constitutional right to remain silent. You should strongly consider exercising that right whether you have had anything to drink or not. You do not have to answer any questions other than stating your name. The only thing you must do is produce your license and proof of insurance. That is it. You do not have to perform field sobriety tests. If it appears you are going to be arrested for DWI, do not say anything other than making a request to speak with an attorney.
Visit our DWI Page for more information or call us at 314.645.4400.