MO House bill proposal would de-fund DWI checkpoints

JACKSON, MO (KFVS) – Original Post

If a proposed amendment to a Missouri law passes, DWI checkpoints could be a thing of the past.

House Bill 4 is a topic of discussion in Missouri’s House of Representatives.

If it passes, DWI checkpoints would no longer be funded with federal grant money. And that’s something that concerns some members of law enforcement.

“A dollar per year isn’t enough to do anything,” said Sergeant Jon Jensen with the Jackson Police Department.

That’s how much federal funding would pay for drunk driving checkpoints if HB4 becomes a law.

Right now, that budget is at $20 million.

“Part of the amendment is not really to de-fund, but to drop down to a dollar per year. That money for the DWI Task Force,” said Representative Scott Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick, the lawmaker who introduced the bill, said saturation patrols are more effective because they are designed to put more officers out on the streets as opposed to stopping more cars.

“Saturation patrols are more effective and they get more drunk drivers without the inconvenience to people who are trying to get from a to b, and are getting caught up in the process,” Fitzpatrick said.

“I’d like to think they’ve saved lives. I know they’ve deterred impaired drivers, and anytime we can get an impaired driver off the street makes it safer for everybody. Especially my wife and my kids. Your family,” Sgt. Jensen said.

The US Supreme court ruled in 1990 that DWI checkpoints are constitutional.

However, Fitzpatrick disagrees with the ruling.

“By literally stopping every single person that passes a point, and temporarily detaining them, that to me is contrary to what the constitution says,” Fitzpatrick said.

Sergeant Jensen said he hopes representatives like Fitzpatrick take a second look at the value of checkpoints.

“I’d challenge any of our administrators, representatives to come out to any of our checkpoints and see what we do, and see the positive impact that we have in the community,” Sgt. Jensen said.

The bill is currently under discussion in the house.

Sergeant Jensen urged anyone for or against the amendment to contact your representative and give them your point of view.

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