Have you ever wondered why police publicize DWI checkpoints in advance? Naturally, one would think that unadvertised checkpoints would be more effective because drivers would be caught off guard.
As a general rule, police must have probable cause to stop a car. Most commonly this occurs due to a traffic or equipment violation. Randomly stopping law abiding drivers for no specific reason appears to violate this rule.
However, Missouri Courts provide that these checkpoints are legal. This is justified by weighing the greater public interest in keeping drunk drivers off the road versus the minimal inconvenience to the driving public. However, when conducting checkpoints, the police must try to minimize the intrusion and anxiety on the driver.
One way this is accomplished is through advance notice. By making the community aware of checkpoints, drivers are more knowledgeable about the situation when stopped. If they are put on notice, the anxiety and intrusion on the driver is arguably reduced.
The police need not publicize the specific dates, times or locations of the checkpoints, only the fact that they will occur soon.
Chad Gaddie is a criminal defense attorney who has practiced throughout Northwest Missouri for nearly 20 years.