What are the Laws in KS & MO for Sobriety Checkpoints?
Both Kansas and Missouri permit law enforcement to administer sobriety checkpoints. These checkpoints are temporary roadblocks used by officers to evaluate whether drivers are intoxicated. Sobriety checkpoints are meant to discourage drunk driving and also curb the number of drunk driving related offense. UPDATE: The Missouri legislature defunded the checkpoint program in Mid-2017 and therefore checkpoints are no longer supported by state funding. Most police departments have turned to "saturation patrols" that utilize more officers who target drunk drivers.
In Kansas and Missouri, the legal limit is .08% BAC (Blood Alcohol Content). This means that if a driver is stopped and later submits a breath or blood test of .08% or greater, or if the driver is determined to be unfit to operate a vehicle, he will be charged with DUI.
Kansas Policy & Sobriety Checkpoints
In most cases, sobriety checkpoints are administered on a busy public road or highway. Officers will either stop every car or, more likely, use a pre-approved system for stopping drivers. Sobriety checkpoints are most often carried out on weekends and holidays during the late night or early morning hours.
Field Sobriety Tests in KS & MO
The most common way to check a driver's BAC at the scene is through the use of a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT). Prior to the PBT, the officer will likely request the driver participate in a field sobriety test to further determine the driver's level of impairment. The three standardized field sobriety tests are:
- One-Leg Stand;
- HGN (Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus); and
- Walk and Turn.
In general, these three tests are meant to evaluate a driver's memory, coordination, balance, and dexterity. Failure to perform well on these tests will most likely lead the officer to believe you are impaired and you will be arrested for DUI/DWI.
A driver may refuse these tests, but there are consequences for refusing. When a driver refuses to submit to a breath test or perform field sobriety tests, it is generally considered to be sufficient probable cause for an arrest if other indicia of impairment are present.
Public Notification & Safety are Required for Sobriety Checkpoints in KS & MO
Some type of public notification is required to alert the public about an upcoming sobriety checkpoint. While there must be notification, it is not required that the public is told the exact location of the upcoming checkpoint.
In addition to the public notices, Kansas and Missouri law enforcement must also abide by safety guidelines when administering a sobriety checkpoint. First, upon entering a sobriety checkpoint, a driver will notice large road signs used to identify the line that establishes where the checkpoint begins. Police cars will likely be parked alongside the signs as well. Next, the driver will see large light systems within the checkpoint. Police cars will be stationed within the checkpoint itself, often with their lights flashing. In some cases, flares and cones will be used to alert drivers to the different lanes of the checkpoint.
Should You Contact an Attorney?
If you have been charged with DUI/DWI in either Kansas or Missouri and were required to participate in a sobriety checkpoint, you may feel as though you have already lost your case. This is not true! Cases involving sobriety checkpoints can still be fought and won.
An experienced and knowledgeable DUI/DWI attorney can create a proper defense for you based on the specific facts of your case. You deserve to have a strong advocate fighting for you. Do not hesitate to call the McLane Law Firm today.