Police man conducting Sobriety Test

What You Need to Know About a DUI Checkpoint 

Guilfoil Law Group  June 25, 2024

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense that can have severe consequences. Understanding DUI checkpoints and knowing your rights can help you avoid unnecessary penalties or legal complications.  

At Guilfoil Law Group, I am dedicated to assisting Missouri drivers facing DWI charges. As an experienced DWI defense attorney in Kansas City, my mission is to help clients challenge accusations and retain their licenses. Recognized in Missouri Lawyer’s Weekly and The St. Louis Daily Record, I provide resources and knowledge for Missouri drivers with questions about DUI checkpoints. 

In this article, I will explore what a DUI checkpoint is, the DUI laws in Missouri, your rights and responsibilities, and what to do if you're stopped. By the end, you'll be better prepared to handle any encounters with DUI checkpoints confidently and legally. 

What Is a DUI Checkpoint?

A DUI checkpoint, also known as a sobriety checkpoint, is a temporary location where law enforcement officers stop vehicles to check for signs of intoxication. These checkpoints are set up at specific locations and times, and every vehicle passing through is subject to inspection. 

At a DUI checkpoint, officers will typically ask drivers for their license and registration. They may also ask a few questions to determine if the driver has been drinking. If the officer suspects that a driver is under the influence, they may ask the driver to perform a field sobriety test or take a breathalyzer test. 

The primary purpose of DUI checkpoints is to reduce the incidents of drunk driving. By setting up these checkpoints, law enforcement agencies aim to deter individuals from driving under the influence and to catch those who do. DUI checkpoints are an essential tool for protecting public safety on the roads. 

How Are DUI Checkpoints Conducted?

In Missouri, Law enforcement agencies are required to follow strict guidelines when setting up and conducting these checkpoints to ensure they are constitutional and to protect motorists' rights. These guidelines include: 

  • Public notification: Checkpoints should be publicly announced in advance to maintain transparency and discourage impaired driving. 

  • Location and timing: The location and timing of checkpoints should be reasonable and aimed at areas with a history of DUI incidents. 

  • Supervision and training: Checkpoints must be supervised by senior officers, and participating officers should be adequately trained. 

  • Neutral criteria: Vehicles should be stopped according to a neutral, predetermined formula (e.g., every third car) to avoid arbitrary stops. 

Missouri DUI Laws

Missouri has stringent DUI laws, and being charged with a DUI can lead to severe penalties. Understanding the implications of a DUI charge in Missouri can help you avoid potential legal consequences. 

The penalties for driving under the influence in Missouri vary depending on the number of prior offenses and the circumstances of the case. Some of the possible penalties include: 

  • First offense (Class B Misdemeanor): Up to 6 months in jail and up to a $500 fine 

  • Second offense (Class A Misdemeanor, "prior offender"): Up to one year in jail and up to a $1,000 fine 

  • Third offense (Class D Felony, "persistent offender"): Up to five years in jail and up to a $5,000 fine 

  • Fourth offense (Class C Felony, "aggravated offender"): Up to seven years in jail and up to a $5,000 fine 

  • Fifth offense (Class B Felony, "chronic offender"): No less than five years or more than 15 years in prison 

Ignition Interlock Program 

In Missouri, individuals convicted of a DUI may be required to participate in the Ignition Interlock Program. This program involves installing an ignition interlock device (IID) in the offender's vehicle. The IID measures the driver's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) before allowing the vehicle to start. Participation in this program can be a condition of regaining driving privileges. 

"Actual Physical Control" of a Vehicle 

Missouri DUI laws are broad and include the concept of "actual physical control" of a vehicle. This means that you can be charged with a DUI even if you are not actively driving. For example, if you are found asleep in your car with the engine running, you could still face DUI charges. 

Rights and Responsibilities at a DUI Checkpoint

Knowing your rights and responsibilities when encountering a DUI checkpoint can help you handle the situation calmly and legally. You have the right to remain silent and not answer any questions beyond providing your license, registration, and proof of insurance. 

In Missouri, you do have the right to refuse field sobriety tests and breath/blood tests. However, under Missouri’s “implied consent” laws, refusing the tests can result in your license being suspended and potentially arrest if the officer believes you are intoxicated.  

Your responsibilities are to provide the required documents, such as your driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance when asked by the officer, and follow any lawful orders given by the officer, such as stepping out of the vehicle if requested. 

What to Do If You're Stopped at a DUI Checkpoint

Being stopped at a DUI checkpoint can be stressful, but knowing what to do can help you handle the situation effectively. 

  • Stay calm and polite: When you approach a DUI checkpoint, remain calm and polite. Take a deep breath and follow the officer's instructions. Being respectful and cooperative can make the process smoother. 

  • Know your rights: Remember your rights during the encounter. You have the right to remain silent and not answer any questions beyond providing your required documents. If you choose to exercise this right, politely inform the officer that you are exercising your right to remain silent. 

  • Contact an attorney: If you are charged with a DUI, the most important thing for you to do is contact an experienced attorney immediately. Legal representation will help protect your rights when facing charges and increase your chances of a favorable outcome. 

Missouri DUI Checkpoint FAQ

Can you avoid rolling down your window at a DUI checkpoint? 

In Missouri, you are legally required to comply with police officers at a DUI checkpoint. This typically involves rolling down your window and providing identification, such as your driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance.

Refusing to roll down your window can be seen as non-compliance and may give the police reasonable suspicion to further investigate. 

Can you avoid the checkpoint? 

Missouri law allows drivers to avoid DUI checkpoints as long as they do so legally. If you see a checkpoint ahead and decide to turn around or take an alternate route, you must follow all traffic laws. Illegal maneuvers, such as making an illegal U-turn or driving erratically, can give police probable cause to stop your vehicle. 

Do police have to read you your rights? 

Police officers are required to read you your Miranda rights if you are taken into custody and subjected to interrogation. However, at a DUI checkpoint, officers are generally conducting preliminary questioning and observations, which do not typically require a Miranda warning.

If you are arrested on suspicion of DUI, the officer should read you your rights before any custodial interrogation begins. 

Can evidence from a DUI checkpoint be used against you? 

Yes, evidence gathered at a DUI checkpoint can be used against you in court. This includes observations made by police officers, results of field sobriety tests, and results from breathalyzer tests.

It's important to note that DUI checkpoints must adhere to constitutional requirements. If it's determined that a checkpoint violated these protections (e.g., lacking proper procedure or reasonable suspicion), the evidence obtained may be challenged in court. 

By understanding your rights and the legal requirements of DUI checkpoints, you can better handle these encounters while remaining compliant with Missouri law. If you have further questions or need legal assistance, it is advisable to consult with a licensed attorney who focuses on DUI/DWI cases

Reach Out for Legal Advice on Your DUI/DWI Case

Understanding DUI checkpoints and knowing your rights and responsibilities can help you avoid unnecessary legal complications. By staying informed and prepared, you can confidently handle any encounters with DUI checkpoints. 

For Missouri drivers in Kansas City, Clay County, Platte County, and Jackson County, consider contacting Guilfoil Law Group if you need legal advice related to DUI checkpoints or charges. I strive to clear your name and ensure a fair trial, and I offer complimentary consultations. Contact me today to discuss your case.