What to Avoid Doing at DWI Checkpoints

Sobriety checkpoints are a useful tool for police to use to keep drunk drivers off the road. They are helpful and aid in reducing the number of people who die each year as a result of drunk driving. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, over 3,300 people died in drunk driving incidents in Missouri between 2003 and 2012.

In addition to death and injuries, many people have their lives upended as a result of a DWI. Many of these come from sobriety checkpoints when police discover a person drank too much. Regardless of how much you have had to drink, there are certain actions to avoid during these interactions.

Admitting to drinking anything

If you did not drink anything, then you probably can say you have not had anything to drink. However, even if you only had one beer, you should avoid mentioning it at a checkpoint. Police officers can use anything you say against you in court. Do not admit to drinking anything. You can get away with saying, “I do not want to respond to that” when an officer asks you about your alcohol consumption.

Consenting to a search

Occasionally, officers ask to search a person’s car. This is typically only done when there is suspicion the driver drank something. Even if you know you have nothing to hide, you are within your rights to not consent to a search. Police officers cannot search a vehicle without a warrant. However, if you have an illegal substance in your car that is in plain sight, such as a beer bottle out in the open, then officers could legally search your vehicle.

Driving off before having permission

Most sobriety checkpoints only last about a minute, so make sure to stay where you are until the officer says you can leave. An officer can only ask you to pull off to the side of the road if there is suspicion. If an officer asks you, then pull off to the side instead of driving off.

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Why is .08 the Legal Limit?

Drunk driving is a huge problem in every state. Between 2013 and 2015 in Missouri, people between the ages of 21 and 25 were most likely to die as a result of drunk driving, according to data from the Missouri Department of Transportation.
You can technically drive on roadways as long as your blood alcohol content is less than 0.08 percent. However, the only truly safe BAC is zero. Someone with a BAC of 0.04 could still feel inebriated and be a danger on roadways. This begs the question: Why is the legal limit of alcohol 0.08?
It varies throughout history
The legal limit has not always been 0.08. In recent decades, some states had the legal limit set at 0.1 or even 0.15. Thanks to efforts from organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the federal government took official action to set it much lower at 0.08. In 2000, Congress enacted legislation to withhold transportation funding to states that did not comply to the new limit. By 2004, every state set 0.08 as the official designation of drunk drivers.
People have different limits
One might assume that 0.08 is the point where most people start feeling tipsy or drunk. In actuality, there is no magic number that states when a person will officially be a danger. A variety of factors ultimately influence an individual person’s BAC, such as weight, gender and body fat percentage. One person may feel completely wasted with a BAC of only 0.05 while another can feel completely fine with a BAC of 0.15.
When do people reach the limit?
As stated above, it depends on the individual person. Some people can have three drinks within a couple hours and be completely fine. Others can drink the same amount and come in well above the 0.08 limit. The best advice is to always err on the side of caution. If you drink a substantial amount in one evening, then you are better off finding another way to get home.

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How one extra drink could land you in DWI hot water

Most people would agree that it is not safe to get behind the wheel after you have had too much to drink. Most people also agree that it is a good practice to have a designated driver if you are planning to spend a night out drinking at a bar or club. Both of these practices aim to protect everyone on the road from accidents due to drunk driving.

The scenario becomes a bit cloudier when it comes to having a drink or two while you are out at dinner or a party, and then you have to drive home after. As the evening and event progresses, it can become more difficult to know “when to say when” and moderate your alcohol consumption in order to get behind the wheel safely when it is time to go home. Here are a few best practices to help keep you and others on the road safe if you are going out for drinks without a designated driver.

1. Know your own limits and alcohol tolerance

The reason it is so difficult to give people a general rule of thumb about how much is too much is because everyone reacts differently to alcohol, and men and women of different heights and weights all have different tolerances for alcohol. In Springfield, as throughout the state of Missouri, law enforcement officers can arrest you if you drive with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher.

Because each individual will reach a particular blood alcohol level based on different levels of alcohol consumption, it is best for you to pre-determine for yourself how many drinks you can legally consume over what span of time before you may reach a limit that could endanger others.

2. Consider carrying a personal breathalyzer or blood alcohol tester

If you know that you tend to drink when you go out and may be unable to keep your consumption to within legal limits, a good investment may be purchasing your own portable breathalyzer tester, so you can test yourself before you get behind the wheel. These devices are available in a range of budgets, so you can find one that suits your individual needs.

3. Do not drink on an empty stomach; consume alcohol with food

When you pair your drink or drinks with food, the food helps to absorb the alcohol so that it can slow the rate of intoxication. Drinking while eating can also help you consume less alcohol since you are not “drinking just to get drunk.”

These are just a few ideas you can keep in mind during your next night out when you have to drive yourself home. Getting arrested for drunk driving in Missouri can bring on very serious penalties and additional collateral damage that can affect many areas in your life. The next time you have to wonder whether you are sober enough to drive, err on the side of caution by taking a taxi or having a designated driver, and you will be sure to avoid a DWI.

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