In the state of Missouri, law enforcement officials are permitted to set up DUI checkpoints.
Typically, these checkpoints are placed on busy roads and the officers involved will either stop every car that comes through or they will use a pre-formulated system to stop cars in a seemingly random manner.
Once stopped, a driver may be asked to submit to either a field sobriety test or a breath test and if they fail, they will be arrested and charged with a DUI – even if they didn’t show signs of drunk driving before reaching the DUI checkpoint.
Do DUI Checkpoints Violate The 4th Amendment?
Under normal circumstances, when a police officer initiates a traffic stop to determine if someone is driving while under the influence, they first need probable cause to show that there was a legal reason for pulling the driver over.
For example, if a driver runs a red light or is erratically swerving across lanes, an officer has a legal reason to pull them over.
Then, based on their interaction with the driver, they may proceed with a field sobriety test or ask the driver to take a Breathalyzer test.
Without probable cause, the stop and subsequent DUI can be legally challenged in court.
The fourth amendment states. “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Knowing this, it’s easy to understand why so many Americans believe that DUI checkpoints violate the 4th Amendment.
Emmy Skylar started working for Debate Report in 2017. Emmy grew up in a small town in northern Manitoba. But moved to Ontario for university. Before joining Debate Report, Emmy briefly worked as a freelance journalist for CBC News. She covers politics and the economy.