Jefferson County DWI checkpoints have seen a drop activity recently and law enforcement officials in Jefferson County believe social media is to blame. Once a DWI checkpoint has been set up in Jefferson County it usually does not take long for word of that checkpoint to be seen on Facebook and Twitter. This has resulted in much lighter traffic at the DWI checkpoint after the checkpoint has been up for an hour or two.
Jefferson County law enforcement officials have started to make changes to the DWI checkpoint operations in an effort to combat this trend. One particularly interesting tactic the Jefferson County police are starting to implement is moving the checkpoint one or two times during the course of a night. Although this may sound like an effective way to fight the current trend, there may be unintended legal consequences as a result of this new strategy.
DWI checkpoints are a recognized public safety exception to the general rule that the police must have a reason to conduct a traffic stop on a vehicle. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that there is a significant public interest in safe roadways so DWI checkpoints are permitted. However, there are certain criteria that any DWI checkpoint must follow for it to be a legal checkpoint under the rules laid out by the Supreme Court. Some of those criteria could be seriously affected by police officers moving a checkpoint to two or more locations on the same night. Roaming DWI checkpoints start to cross the line and become random vehicle stops which are expressly forbidden under Supreme Court law.
As with many new DWI policies that Jefferson County law enforcement may implement, it is important for the experienced DWI lawyers that practice in Jefferson County to challenge these policies so the courts can determine the lawfulness of any new policy. This is especially true when the new policies clearly begin to invade upon the personal freedoms each American citizen should hold so dear.
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “DUI Checkpoints in Jefferson County Adapt to Social Media,” Leah Thorsen, April 6, 2013.
– Our firm is experienced in handling DWI checkpoint cases in Jefferson County. To learn more, please see our Jefferson County DWI page.