Court Rules DWI Checkpoint Invalid

Recently a judge ruled a sobriety checkpoint invalid in a DWI case because it did not comply with the law. Specifically, the judge held there was a lack of evidence to show the location of the checkpoint had a high rate of drunk driving. Due to the judge’s ruling, all evidence obtained after the stop of the defendant was deemed inadmissible, which essentially ends the prosecution of the defendant. The case will either be dismissed at the discretion of the prosecutor or by the judge for lack of evidence.

In the United States police do not have the right to pull over or stop a car without a valid reason. The only reason DWI Checkpoints are constitutional is because those checkpoints fall into a public safety exception that has been recognized by the Supreme Court. It is important to realize these checkpoints remain an exception to the general rule that police cannot stop anyone they would like. A valid checkpoint must comply with requirements that have been specifically set out by the Supreme Court. Certain criteria must be adhered to such as having a prepared plan for the checkpoint so there is no discretion for individual police officers to determine which vehicles are stopped and which are not. The stops must be completely random and cannot take into account a driver’s age, race, or gender, nor can the type or condition of a vehicle be considered.

While there is no mandatory checklist in Missouri for considering the constitutionality of specific sobriety checkpoints, numerous factors have been repeatedly recognized by courts that have held Sobriety Checkpoints invalid. The primary purpose of a sobriety checkpoint must be to look for intoxicated drivers. It is vital to examine all checkpoints to ensure they comply with the laws laid out by Missouri and by the United States Supreme Court.

Click here to read more information about DWI laws and procedures in Missouri.

Source: – “DUI Check Location Invalid”, Sean O’Sullivan, July 27, 2013.