Are DUI checkpoints legal in Kansas and Missouri? Here’s what to know about state laws

Any Kansas or Missouri driver may have had this experience at some point: You reach a checkpoint in the road where police officers are stopping cars and testing people for signs of impairment.

This is typically called a DUI checkpoint, or a sobriety checkpoint.

Here, police may ask drivers to participate in a field sobriety test, which may involve getting out of the car to prove they can walk in a straight line, stand on one leg or follow an object placed 12-15 inches from their nose with their eyes.

If you refuse to take these tests, you can find yourself without your driver’s license for the next year.

At such checkpoints, police may stop every car or use a specific pattern to stop certain cars. Drivers are stopped — even if they have done nothing wrong — so that police can check if any of them are operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The goal for these officers is to get as many impaired drivers off the road as possible.

DUI checkpoints are illegal in 13 states, one of them being Texas. Courts in that state have ruled that DUI checkpoints violate the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures made without probable cause, according to the Shapiro Law Firm in Plano.

Texas’ position is different to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling, which has been adopted by 37 states where the checkpoints are legal. In the 1990 case Michigan State Department of Police vs Sitz, the Supreme Court held that DWI checkpoints are reasonable seizures because their purpose is to promote public safety.

What about Kansas and Missouri? Here’s what to know about the laws in these two states.

Can Kansas law enforcement agencies run sobriety checkpoints?


Kansas law enforcement agencies can set up DUI checkpoints across the state, and the Kansas Department of Transportation provides funding to these agencies for an agreed number of checkpoints during the year.

According to lawyers on the law website, officers in Kansas will stop every car or use a pre-approved system for stopping drivers. says checkpoints are most often scheduled for weekends and holidays during the late night or early morning hours.

if a driver is pulled over at a DUI checkpoint, officers may ask them to participate in a field sobriety test or take a breath test to determine if they can legally operate a vehicle. The legal blood alcohol content limit in Kansas is set at .08% if you’re over 21 and .02% if you’re under 21.

Kansas law enforcement agencies announce the location of DUI checkpoints in advance.

Law enforcement agencies have held checkpoints at locations in the Kansas City area, including W. 99th Street and Metcalf Avenue in Olathe and at Shawnee Mission Parkway and Quivira Road in Shawnee.

Are DUI checkpoints legal in Missouri?

Yes, DUI and sobriety checkpoints are legal in the state of Missouri.

But while these checkpoints are legal in Missouri, they are not used as widely as they once were.

Sixty-six Missouri law enforcement agencies, including the Kansas City Police Department, lost funding for sobriety checkpoints in 2017 after the Missouri General Assembly passed a law shifting more than $19 million in federal funds away from checkpoints to saturation patrols.

In saturation patrols, police attempt to stop drunk drivers by driving around and searching for motorists committing any traffic violations like failing to stop at a red light, lane weaving, speeding or rolling through a stop sign instead of coming to a complete stop.

The saturation patrols are often active holiday weekends and in areas with a higher rate of crashes involving impaired drivers.

Kansas City police have a dedicated DWI unit whose only job is to go out and look for impaired drivers, according to Sgt. Corey Carlisle, a police department spokesman.

On holidays like Independence Day, St. Patrick’s Day or on the weekends, the unit goes out to entertainment districts to look for impaired drivers.

“A lot of agencies just don’t have the manpower to have an individual unit, so their regular patrol officers are, if they have the time, going out to stop drunk drivers,” Carlisle said. “Impaired driving is a time-intensive investigative process. It could take you 2-3 hours just to get through one DUI.”

The Forth Worth Star-Telegram’s Dalia Faheid contributed to this report