Missouri police departments commonly employ sobriety checkpoints (or Roadblocks) at set locations, where all drivers passing through are stopped and questioned regarding their alleged intoxication, without any observed traffic violations being committed, or prior probable cause to arrest for a DWI. Sobriety checkpoints have been consistently upheld as Constitutional.
At sobriety checkpoints, one officer often does an initial "screen," and then directs those he believes might be impaired to another officer at a different point in the sobriety roadblock for further investigation. With a portable and quick alcohol breath test, the police can alternatively test all drivers (if the law permits), and process the cars one by one as in a conveyor belt. When there is no quick test, a more complicated routine is necessary. Upon suspicion, the stopped driver is required to exit the vehicle and submit to roadside sobriety tests that require the demonstration of both mental and balance skills. If the officer determines that the test has not been passed, the driver is then required to take a portable alcohol breath test. If probable cause is then established for DWI, the subject is arrested.
There is no doubt that a sobriety checkpoint constitutes a "seizure" under the Fourth Amendment. The reasonableness of whether or not the specific sobriety checkpoint passes Constitutional muster depends on "a balance between the public interest and the individual's right to personal security free from arbitrary interference by law officers."
Sobriety checkpoints in Missouri must be operated under a detailed operational plan covering the following: strict compliance with a written plan, adequate supervision, consistency, and professional execution; accurate identification of impaired motorists; minimization of motorist surprise, apprehension, and inconvenience; safety of motorists and participating law enforcement officers; and, achievement of maximum deterrent effect through aggressive publicity. If the sobriety checkpoint does not meet the necessary requirements, then the stop and arrest could be invalid.
The law office of Holder Susan Slusher Oxenhandler LLC offers experience and expertise when defending against a DWI obtained while passing through sobriety checkpoints in Missouri. Contact us today at (573) 355-9270 to schedule your free consultation and case review. Let us work for you.