What to Expect at a DUI Checkpoint

While Kansas City DUI Checkpoints are a popular deterrent, they do have some serious consequences for people who are caught. Your DUI defense attorney can help you understand what to expect at a DUI checkpoint and how to avoid being arrested.

The Supreme Court has ruled that DUI checkpoints are legal, as long as they follow specific criteria. This includes public notice of the location and time.

Public Notification

Law enforcement agencies are required to give public notice that DUI checkpoints will be in place. This is typically done through the news media or on-street signs posted near the location.

The police must also follow certain safety guidelines when setting up these roadblocks. They must use neutral explicit plan governing the operation, be able to prove they are legislatively authorized and have trained officers on scene to administer the checkpoint.

The officers at these checkpoints are looking for clues of alcohol and drug impairment, such as slurred speech or the odor of marijuana. They are also checking to see whether the driver is wearing a seat belt or if there are weapons or drugs in the vehicle. They will likely ask to search the vehicle, but you have a right to refuse if they do not have legal grounds for a warrant.

Screening Vehicles

In both Kansas and Missouri, law enforcement must follow certain rules when it comes to DUI checkpoints. These rules are designed to prevent unconstitutional racial profiling or other forms of arbitrary detentions. If police fail to follow these rules, our lawyers can use this as a basis for challenging the checkpoint arrest.

The main goal of a DUI checkpoint is to create general deterrence for drivers. This is done by elevating the fear of being stopped for driving while intoxicated. The logic behind this is that if people are afraid of being caught they will think twice about drinking and driving.

Almost all DUI checkpoints set up during the night or early in the morning when the highest percentage of drunk drivers are on the road. Drivers are often warned that there is a DUI checkpoint ahead.

Stopping Vehicles

Each year law enforcement officers throughout the state use sobriety checkpoints or saturation patrols to investigate drivers for DUI. These are usually set up on stretches of highway during the weekend and holiday hours. The working logic behind them is that people will think twice about getting behind the wheel after drinking if they are afraid of being caught.

Police officers at these checkpoints will either stop every vehicle or follow a pattern such as stopping every third car to evaluate the driver for clues of alcohol and drug impairment, such as slurred speech or the smell of intoxicants. Defending against DUI checkpoints requires an attorney with the knowledge and experience to challenge how they are conducted.

It is not illegal to turn around to avoid a DUI checkpoint as long as you do so safely and without violating any other traffic laws.

Field Sobriety Tests

During a DUI checkpoint, officers will often ask drivers to undergo field sobriety tests. These tests can include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, which involves following an object with your eyes; the Walk and Turn, which requires you to take nine steps in a specific manner and turn around on one foot; and the One Leg Stand, which requires you to balance on one leg for 30 seconds.

According to studies, these tests can be up to 90 percent accurate in determining impairment. However, even a sober person can fail these tests due to a number of factors, such as a sloping or uneven road or even their clothing.

A DUI lawyer can challenge the results of these tests in court. Generally, you have no obligation to submit to them and can refuse without penalty.


While a DUI checkpoint may seem intimidating, it is important to remember that you have specific and fundamental constitutional rights. For example, officers cannot search your vehicle unless they have probable cause or you consent to it. Additionally, you do not have to agree to take a field sobriety test or breathalyzer.

In order to conduct a DUI checkpoint, officers must follow a certain systematic process that is outlined ahead of time, as it removes any subjectivity and discretion from the procedure. However, there are still many instances where drivers are arrested at DUI checkpoints, sometimes based on erroneous evidence. If you have been arrested at a DUI checkpoint, it is important to consult with an experienced attorney. An attorney can review your case and ensure that everything was done by the book.