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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Can police arrest drivers with a BAC lower than 0.08?

It was fairly recently that the United States adopted the blood alcohol content limit of 0.08 for determining if a driver operates a vehicle under the influence. However, some politicians are presently moving to make the limit even lower. While it may seem harsh, many countries have already adopted lower BAC limits for drivers.

While the BAC limit for drunk driving in the United States still stands at 0.08 for most people, there are instances where police can arrest individuals with a BAC lower than 0.08. It is for this reason that it is always recommended for drivers to operate a car with a BAC of 0.00.

Teenagers and commercial drivers

There are specific demographics who must always drive with no alcohol in their bloodstream. A zero-tolerance policy is in place for anyone under the age of 21. Since it is not legal for teenagers to purchase alcohol, they cannot drive a car with any alcohol in their system even if it is lower than 0.08. Similarly, people who operate commercial vehicles, such as truck drivers, cannot drive with a BAC higher than 0.04. Occasionally, one drink is all it takes for someone to have a BAC higher than 0.04, so when people are on the job, they should never consume alcohol before driving.

Drivers who pose a danger to others

For drivers who do not fall within one of the above categories, they can still face a DUI even with a BAC under the legal limit. This most often occurs when the driver clearly poses a threat to others. For example, if a police officer pulls over a driver who has a child in the backseat, then the officer may arrest the driver if he or she has consumed any alcohol recently. Another example would be an office noticing a driver swerving severely between lanes. Alcohol affects everyone differently, so someone with a BAC of 0.05 could still feel intoxicated and not be in any condition to drive.

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Probable Cause: When Police Only Suspect A DWI

When you envision law enforcement officers arresting someone for DWI, you may imagine the police physically seeing a car swerving in the road. While that is the case for many of these incidents, an officer can indeed arrest someone without seeing the driver actually endanger anyone. One notorious example occurred when police tracked down a car that received a complaint from another driver, and the officers located 30 pounds of marijuana in the vehicle.

Many drivers get behind the wheel of a car after a few drinks, believing they can make it back home without catching the attention of law enforcement. However, there are instances where police can arrest drivers on suspicion of DWI due to probable cause.

What constitutes probable cause?

A police officer does not necessarily have to see you driving if there is sufficient probable cause to suggest you drove a vehicle while intoxicated at some point. For example, you may drink some alcohol and instead of driving the entire way home, you pull off to the side of the road to sleep it off. In the middle of the night, you awake to a knocking on the window. While speaking, the officer realizes you have the undeniable odor of alcohol on your breath. Since your car is on the side of the road, he or she deduces you drove while drunk and arrests you. This scenario may hold up in court because there is enough proof beyond a reasonable doubt to suggest you drove while drunk.

Circumstantial evidence

Police can also use circumstantial evidence to determine if you were intoxicated and operated a vehicle recently, even if you were in a parked car. For example, if the car has warm tires or a warm engine, then the officer can deduce the car was in motion recently. Even something minor such as the keys being in the ignition can be enough proof to establish probable cause.

 

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How To Avoid A DWI During the Holidays

Holidays are opportunities for kicking back and having a few drinks. However, when you end up having a bit too much to drink and then get behind the wheel, you run the risk of hurting yourself and others. Authorities in Springfield often set up additional drunk-driver checkpoints during holiday times when drivers are leaving parties and more likely to exceed the Missouri state limit of having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent.
It is important for you to understand how you can enjoy the holiday season and social events without getting a DWI on your record. Keeping a couple simple tips in mind can make the difference between an accident or arrest and getting home safely.
Being aware of checkpoints and saturation patrols
Law enforcement authorities often use drunk driving checkpoints to raise public awareness about drunk driving and to try to deter people who have had too much to drink from getting on the road. In 2017, however, the Missouri government proposed reduced funding for these checkpoints as part of a larger budget bill. This brought up the question of whether checkpoints are less effective than so-called saturation patrols.
Saturation patrols are when four or more officers work in a concentrated effort in one area to deter drunk driving. Its supporters say that checkpoints are ineffective because word quickly spreads once one is set up, thus defeating the purpose. Knowing that saturation patrols may be more widely used can help you understand the increased risks of getting a DWI.
Staying within the legal limit
In Missouri, the legal limit for BAC is 0.08 percent. In practical terms, however, it may be confusing to understand how many drinks that actually translates to. Several factors play a role in determining your BAC, and as such, the best advice is not to get behind the wheel if you have anything to drink. If you miscalculate and take the risk of driving while over the legal limit, the authorities may place you under arrest. During a stop, police officers will make their own observations about your sobriety or lack thereof. Officers take several other factors into consideration besides the test of your blood alcohol limit. This means it may not be effective to try to gauge how many drinks will keep you below the legal limit.
It is never safe to take a risk in getting behind the wheel if you have had any alcohol to drink. The authorities know that many people do so during the holidays, however. That being the case, if the police stop you at a checkpoint and you have had too much alcohol, remain courteous and polite. If they place you under arrest, you may wish to seek professional advice from an attorney with experience handling DWI cases.

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Springfield Criminal Defense Attorney Adam Woody Analyzes the Craig Wood Trial for Local CBS Affiliate KOLR10

Throughout the death penalty case of Craig Wood, Adam Woody served as a trial analyst on the morning show, Daybreak, for the Springfield CBS Affiliate, KOLR10.  For recaps of the trial, insight into trial strategy, information on the trial process, and more, see the daily segments below.

October 30

October 31

November 1

November 2

November 3

November 6

November 7

Although the jury found Craig Wood guilty of first degree murder, they could not come to an agreement as to whether the death penalty was appropriate.  Judge Thomas Mountjoy will sentence the Defendant in January, and it will be at that time we will know whether he receives life in prison without the possibility of parole, or the death penalty.

 

The Craig Wood Murder Trial: What to Expect from the Sentencing Phase

With the fifth day of the Craig Wood Murder Trial starting up, many questions have arisen about the death penalty. According to Missouri Law, there are two possibilities of sentencing with a first degree murder conviction: death by legal injection, or life in prison without any possibility of parole. Adam joins KOLR 10 Daybreak on this Friday morning to discuss what is happening on day five of this fast paced trial. Click here to watch.