Missouri Lawmakers Consider Bill to Defund DWI Checkpoints

Missouri Lawmakers Consider Bill to Defund DWI Checkpoints

Sobriety checkpoints have become an important tool in allowing law enforcement officers to arrest drivers under suspicion of DUI / DWI. While they are used throughout the state of Missouri and the nation, checkpoints have long raised concerns about whether they go too far in subjecting citizens to investigatory stops and violate drivers’ right to be free from unlawful search and seizure. Still, courts have ruled that DWI checkpoints are constitutional as long as officers conduct themselves in accordance to the law.

If a newly proposed bill passes, DWI checkpoints could become a thing of the past in Missouri. Under House Bill 4, sobriety checkpoints would no longer receive funding through federal grants, placing additional financial strains on law enforcement to come up with the $20 million in economic aid. In replacement of checkpoints, the bill calls for additional funding for saturation patrols.

Saturation patrols are another commonly used law enforcement tactic in which more officers working the beat make DWI enforcement a priority. Typically, these officers are part of a DWI Task Force, and will patrol areas known for drinking and driving, such as near bars and restaurants. They will also focus on looking for signs of driver impairment, such as swerving, at times when risks for drunk driving accidents are highest, such as at night and in the early morning hours.

According to lawmakers backing the bill, saturation patrols are more effective than DWI checkpoints, as they put more officers in the field rather than stationing them in one location, which drivers have the right to avoid. They also cite that while the Supreme Court of the United States ruled sobriety checkpoints constitutional nearly 30 years ago, stopping and temporarily detaining drivers without justifiable cause is contradictory to our criminal laws. The bills is currently being considered by members of the state house.

Whether you were arrested for a DWI at a checkpoint or after being pulled over, it is important to remember that DWIs are serious crimes with substantial penalties. These penalties, including hefty fines, probation, and terms of imprisonment, can also be greatly elevated when there are aggravating factors present in a case, such as high BAC levels, prior convictions, or accidents.

To fight the charges and penalties you face when being charged with DWI, and to fight to protect your driving privileges, you can work with a St. Louis DWI lawyer from The Hammer Law Firm, LLC. Our legal team is helmed by two former prosecutors who use decades of combined experience gained on both sides of the courtroom to help clients secure the best resolution possible.

If you would like to discuss your case personally with an attorney from our firm, contact us for a FREE and confidential consultation.

Categories: DWI
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