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Recent Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) Checkpoint Ruling

A recent Missouri Court of Appeals decision states that a sobriety checkpoint is not unconstitutional as long as officers don’t have unconstrained discretion. Generally, there is a requirement of (1) specific data showing a need for the checkpoint (2) public notice, and (3) written procedures. However, in State v. Biggerstaff, the Court upheld the validity of the checkpoint even though these requirements were not present. In this case, the defendant was charged with driving while intoxicated, possession of a controlled substance, and driving while suspended. The checkpoint avoided being quashed because it did not allow for unconstrained discretion. In other words, the officers were required to only focus on individuals suspected of driving under the influence. According to this reasoning, if the checkpoint was used as a fishing expedition to find people breaking any kind of law, the search and subsequent arrest would have been suppressed.