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State divided on issue of checkpoints to deter drunk driving

Sobriety checkpoints are frequently utilized by law enforcement agencies. Police officers use the checkpoints as a means to reduce drunk driving by identifying those who are operating vehicles while under the influence of alcohol. However, a debate about the checkpoints has arisen in the Missouri legislature.

The Missouri State House of Representatives had previously introduced a spending plan that would have stopped state funding of sobriety checkpoints. The provision was included because concerns had been raised that such checkpoints may violate motorists' rights. However, the State Senate recently removed the verbiage that eliminated state funding.

The proposal would not have affected checkpoints conducted by local authorities. However, funding for the checkpoints at the state level remains undecided until a new spending plans can be negotiated. A few other states in the country prohibit police from stopping drivers unless an illegal activity is suspected. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the use of such roadblocks in 1990.

The Missouri Highway Patrol reported that roughly 22 percent of all fatalities on the roads involved drunk drivers. Officers at a recent sobriety checkpoint in the central part of the state had stopped 105 vehicles. From those drivers, three were arrested for driving while intoxicated. There was a total of 16 violations, with two felony warrant arrests.

When someone is arrested for drunk driving at a sobriety checkpoint or elsewhere in the state of Missouri, it is important to remember that he or she has the right to mount a defense to the charges. An experienced criminal defense attorney can thoroughly discuss the entire legal process and examine any evidence in the case. A strong defense team is imperative to minimizing any negative outcomes for a client.

Source: stltoday.com, "Missouri senators move to keep drunk driving checkpoints in budget", Kurt Erickson, April 23, 2017

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