The Labor Day holiday is still two weeks away, but law enforcement agencies in Missouri are not waiting for the unofficial end of summer to arrive to begin their crackdown on drunk driving offenses. Police in agencies all across the state are opening the end of summer campaign with increased patrols and other efforts seeking to find people to charge with DWI.
Officials met Thursday in Columbia to call attention to the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, which essentially will be run statewide from August 16 through the Labor Day holiday. DWI checkpoints and extra patrols will be used through the campaign.
Not all states allow law enforcement to use DWI checkpoints. A number of states have found the idea unconstitutional under state constitutions while a few others prohibit the operations under state statutes.
However, the U.S. Supreme Court has previously decided that DWI checkpoints are not necessarily unconstitutional under the federal principles, provided that the operations are conducted with safeguards to protect against unreasonable government intrusion.
These kinds of ideas involve complex issues. A driver accused of drunk driving has the right to challenge law enforcement’s procedures in gathering evidence, as well as to challenge the allegations overall. The state has the burden to prove a crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
Criminal cases, including those alleging DWI in Missouri, are governed by a wide number of rules. But, as we have previously discussed (including in relation to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the McNeely case), challenging the state’s case serves an important role in keeping the government in check.
Our system is based upon the idea that if a person has the right to defend against charges and hold the state to its strict burden of proof, the government can better be held in check from being able to throw people in jail for little or no reason.
Source: KRCG 13 Connect Mid-Missouri, “Agencies begin “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign,” Juliette Dryer, Aug. 15, 2013