Police Alter Tactics with Sobriety Checkpoints to Capture Intoxicated Drivers


Today, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published an article detailing how the Jefferson County, Missouri Sheriff's Office is altering how sobriety checkpoints are conducted. According to the article, the sheriff's office is concerned that the increased use of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, is revealing the location of sobriety roadblocks, thus defeating law enforcement efforts at detecting and apprehending drunk drivers.

In response to these concerns, the sheriff's office is opting for smaller, more mobile, checkpoints at multiple locations on lesser-traveled roads, rather than the larger, single-location checkpoints on major roadways. In addition, these sobriety checkpoints are occurring at random times throughout the week instead of weekends only. Although social media has not had any effect on DWI enforcement operations in St. Louis City, St. Louis County, or St. Charles County, the changes in Jefferson County seem to be following the actions of Franklin County where smaller, multiple-location operations have been used in recent years.

While the new sobriety checkpoint format is not illegal per se, each checkpoint must still comply with the constitutional prohibition against unreasonable seizures. In 1988, the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District established a set of guidelines for law enforcement agencies to follow when planning and conducting sobriety checkpoint operations. The guidelines were later approved in the Southern District and Eastern District, the latter of which covers St. Louis City and St. Louis, St. Charles, Franklin, and Jefferson Counties. The failure of the police to follow these guidelines could result in the checkpoint being ruled unconstitutional and the dismissal of charges.

In the unfortunate event that you are stopped at a sobriety checkpoint and are subsequently arrested for driving while intoxicated, it is important that you obtain a criminal defense attorney in St. Louis who regularly practices in DWI defense and is familiar with the intricacies of sobriety checkpoint and roadblock operations.