On weekends or during holidays, it’s not unusual to see sobriety checkpoints set up at busy streets or on the highway. While in most states these are legal and somewhat common, the checkpoints got off to a rocky start in the eighties. If you talk with a Kansas City DUI lawyer and other lawmakers around the country, you’ll find that the checkpoints are not as black and white as you would imagine. Many still believe them to be an illegal use of police force. The biggest issue is that the law is unconstitutional. While on the federal level it is legal, there are states that have determined it to be an illegal method of spotting and arresting drunk drivers.
It all started in 1986, when the Michigan State Police decided to employ a new strategy, now recognized as a sobriety checkpoint. A resident named Rick Sitz set to work immediately, suing the police department for violating the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, which implies that you can not search without probable cause. Unless there is probable cause, the Constitution prevents the police from searching you or your belongings. This case made it all the way up to the Supreme Court, where it was ruled in 1990 by a majority vote that having sobriety roadblocks did not violate the Constitution.
Today, 38 states have adopted this method of law enforcement to police the roads and ensure that people don’t drink and drive. However, others have fought to have the law ruled as unconstitutional in their own state. There are twelve states today that either forbid DUI checkpoints, or have made no stand on the practice, but simply do not employ these road blocks. Even among lawmakers the issue is debated.
Not everyone is convinced that these checkpoints are lawful. But many states also don’t agree on how useful and effective they are. For those who get issued a DUI at a checkpoint, there are Kansas City DUI lawyers who fight to ensure that their client’s rights were not violated in the process. A misstep in procedure can spell out a win for the defendant in DUI charges received at checkpoints. In each state, the specific application of these rulings differs depending on the individual interpretation of the state and federal Constitution.
If you live in Missouri or Kansas, the police force is allowed to set up checkpoints once or twice a month. That kind of frequency means that DUI attorneys in Kansas City are familiar and well versed in the laws that can help their clients that get drunk driving charges in this manner. A DUI case can change your life dramatically. A good lawyer fights to ensure you receive proper representation, keep your license, spend less in fines, and retain the dignity you had before you got stopped at a checkpoint. Getting a DUI at a sobriety checkpoint doesn’t have to be the end of your career or your good reputation. The right legal help will set you up to get the best you can out of your case and move beyond it.