This video has gone viral, over a DUI checkpoint performed in Tennessee. If you haven’t seen the video here is the link: http://youtu.be/w-WMn_zHCVo. I urge you to watch it before you continue to read my article. Whether you like it or not, believe it’s right or not, these are the hard cold facts. DUI Checkpoints are LEGAL! Under the Federal Supreme Court case of Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444 (1990), it was determined that DUI checkpoints are legal and are an important part of deterring drunk driving. They left the specific rules to the states themselves, as to how to set them up, time frame, safety, etc. There are 11 states that do not allow checkpoints for various reasons:
- Rhode Island
Tennessee is not one of these, which is where this checkpoint in the video was set up. The male in this video “claims” to know his rights and what the law says. Apparently, he has not studied enough and needs to go back to school. If he claims to be a “Constitutionalist”, then he still is not fulfilling his duty.
In Tennessee, DUI checkpoints are legal and they used by many of the different law enforcement agencies in the state. The public was given notice of checkpoints being performed over the holiday weekend. As I don’t know the specific location of this checkpoint, I can’t verify if this specific one advertised. The story released by The Blaze (http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/07/08/my-blood-boiled-4th-of-july-dui-checkpoint-video-goes-viral-after-officers-comment/) states that it was Rutherford County, Tennessee. I also found a press release by the Libertarian party:
Press Release For Immediate Release: Statement Concerning DUI Checkpoint VideoPublished July 7, 2013 | By Matthew
For Immediate Release
Axl DavidContact person:
The Libertarian Party of Tennessee
Statement Concerning DUI Checkpoint Video
July 5, 2013
RUTHERFORD COUNTY, TENN. On July 4th, members of the Rutherford County (TN) Libertarian Party became concerned about DUI checkpoints occurring in Rutherford County. Members were advised to record their interactions, should they find themselves going through a checkpoint during their routine travels. It was made clear that this would be done so in a way that was
nonconfrontational and unobtrusive, but still in clear view of law enforcement.
Rutherford County Libertarian Party member Chris Kalbaugh, who is the driver in the video, uploaded this video to Youtube and expressed his concern that his constitutional rights were violated. Literally overnight, the video became viral, largely due to the internet aggregate site reddit.com
“I broke no laws and I made sure to be respectful the entire time while still exercising my Constitutional freedom. The officers would not let me leave but they would not answer if I was being detained,” said Kalbaugh, 21, of Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Kalbaugh continues, “I wanted to show that I was not impaired and to get the confrontation over with. When I got out, he demanded my ID even though I didn’t break any laws or traffic violations.
They also said they were going to search my vehicle because the drug dog ‘hit’ on the vehicle. I don’t do any drugs and I have never had any illegal substances in my car. When the officers said that the drug dog hit on my car, I became furious because I knew that was impossible. All of this happened because I did not want to lower my window all the way which was completely legal. Later on when the officer tried to open my door and pull me out of my vehicle, I was glad that my window was only partially open. This video was not made to be disrespectful to law enforcement at all; there are plenty of great cops in Tennessee that do not believe in going outside of the law to take away Constitutional freedom. Having rights is not disrespectful.”
The video, having gone viral, has raised the ire of the entire public. As evidenced on the Facebook page for the Rutherford County Sheriff and the Tennessee Highway Patrol, there is a large public backlash taking shape. The reddit comment section, which has just over 8,000 comments as of this writing, is full of users vowing to contact county officials and Sheriff Robert Arnold.
“It’s sad that on a day that is celebrated for freedom and liberty, such a grotesque violation of both has occurred,” said Matthew Novak, Vice Chair of the Libertarian Party of Tennessee.
“The Rutherford County Sheriff’s deputy trashing a lawabiding citizen’s constitutional rights on July 4th makes it clear that the very meaning of Independence Day has become lost on the law enforcement community in Rutherford County,” said Jim Tomasik, Chairman of The Libertarian Party of Tennessee.
Now, after reading this release, it shows that this was a planned and intentional test of what the Courts have already deemed as legal. This is not, an illegal stop or detention. The search on the vehicle is not an illegal search. The act of having a K-9 drug dog, sniffing a vehicle, does not constitute a search. If the dog alerts, the Officers have reasonable grounds for a search of the vehicle for the intention of finding the suspected drugs. Now, some states are very specific on the condition of where and when a K-9 is allowed to be used so this is a broad overview of the Federal opinion and my experience and teaching as a former law enforcement officer. In many states, this is considered probable cause for a search and in some instances, is credible enough for a search warrant. Due to the circumstances of this being a checkpoint and that drugs/evidence could easily be destroyed, the search is conducted at the location by Officers on scene, to try and accomodate the public and move them on their way as quickly as possible. There are other rules/law that would back up the act of the search at the scene and not obtaining a warrant by confiscating the vehicle and depriving the owner of his property any longer than is necessary. Now, I am not going to address the conduct of Officers in this post, whether you believe them to be good or bad. I am only addressing the legality of the claims by the driver of the “illegal detention” and “illegal search”.
According to the Highway Patrol’s website, these checkpoints for the holiday weekend were a “no refusal” procedure. Here is a direct quote from their page:
Posts Tagged Tennessee sobriety checkpoint
The Tennessee Highway Patrol has issued a media release dated July 1, 2013 that details plans for an impaired driving enforcement campaign for the upcoming Fourth of July weekend. The Tennessee Highway Patrol plans to implement several checkpoints for the duration of the holiday weekend, which will include the standard sobriety checkpoints (DUI Roadblocks) and driver’s license checkpoints, as well as the more aggressive “no refusal” sobriety checkpoints.
At these checkpoint locations, every driver who passes through must be stopped and questioned by Troopers. During the stop, if the Troopers notice signs of drug and/or alcohol impairment you may be asked to exit your vehicle to perform certain roadside tasks (field sobriety tests).
Information about the dates and locations of the planned DUI checkpoints in the Knoxville area are included below and have been taken directly from the Tennessee Highway Patrol press release. Information for additional DUI roadblocks across Tennessee can be downloaded here.
Anyone arrested for DUI (driving under the influence), or another related charge, should immediately contact a Tennessee DUI Attorney familiar with Tennessee DUI laws. For more information about the crime of DUI or about your legal rights with respect to a Tennessee Highway Patrol checkpoint, Steve and Sara are available by calling 865-249-7200. You may also wish to visitwww.tndui.com for more information about the offense of driving under the influence in Tennessee.
DIST. 1 KNOXVILLE—Fourth of July Sobriety Checkpoints
* Indicates a No Refusal Sobriety Checkpoint; DL indicates a Driver’s License Checkpoint
THURSDAY, JULY 4
Checkpoint County Road/Highway Time of Day DL CHECKPOINT Loudon EAST TELLICO PKWY NORTH OF 411 Afternoon SOBRIETY* Knox CONCORD @ STATE ROUTE 332 Late Night SOBRIETY* Knox STATE ROUTE 62 EAST @ STATE ROUTE 162 Late Night
FRIDAY, JULY 5:
Checkpoint County Road/Highway Time of Day DL CHECKPOINT Loudon FOSTER RD @ BROWDER HILL & STEVENS RD Afternoon SOBRIETY* Knox STATE ROUTE 131 @ CARPENTER RD Night SOBRIETY* Knox MAYNARDVILLE RD @ FT. SUMTER RD Night SOBRIETY Roane HWY 382 @ CHURCH OF LATTER DAY SAINTS Night SOBRIETY Sevier US 411 @ STATE ROUTE 139 DOUGLAS DAM RD Night SOBRIETY Anderson STATE ROUTE 61 @ VICTORY BAPTIST CHURCH Night
SATURDAY, JULY 6:
Checkpoint County Road/Highway Time of Day DL CHECKPOINT Morgan STATE ROUTE 62 @ PETIT LANE Morning DL CHECKPOINT Campbell SR 63 @ CAMPBELL/CLAIBORNE CO LINE Night SOBRIETY Blount OLD KNOXVILLE HWY @ I-140 RAMP Night SOBRIETY* Sevier SR 66 @ SR 139 DOUGLAS DAM RD Late Night
I am not sure which agency this checkpoint was conducted by, according the article in The Blaze, it was the Sheriff’s Office. There may have been more than one agency involved, that is common place, as Sheriff’s Office has jurisdiction in the whole county and municipal Police Departments have jurisdiction in the City limits.
Once the driver showed what would be interpreted as being uncooperative, by the Officers, he would have been evaluated further for any intoxication. Had he rolled his window down, spoken with the Officer, answering his questions, giving no indication of intoxication, he would have been on his way in probably 30 seconds or a minute. But, instead he decides that he wants to show how smart he is and wants to test the system and some Officers patience. This is not the time or place to test the system. The time for contesting law, is in the court room.
Once the driver is moved to the evaluation area, the Officers have the right to have the driver exit the vehicle, check for a drivers license and depending on the State, insurance and registration of the vehicle being driven. At this point, the Officer is determining the suspicion of any intoxication by drugs or alcohol and whether this person is valid to operate a vehicle. This detention is a lawful detention because the driver has exhibited signs of possible intoxication or is unable to understand instruction due to possible intoxication or medical condition. Either way, the Officers would be negligent if they were to let this driver continue to drive without confirming if there was intoxication or other medical emergency. Now, I make no excuses for Officers behavior or policies instituted by agencies but these are how the laws allow these actions to be taken.
Again, once the vehicle is stopped in the checkpoint, the running of a drug dog along the exterior of a car is not deemed a search. This is a common practice, especially in a high drug traffic area or on interstate routes that are known for drug transportation. The dog alerted and that gives the Officers the cause for a search of the vehicle. As far as the dog doing any damage to the vehicle, we only have the driver’s statement to that effect. Any damage to the vehicle, would most likely be taken care with a good wash and wax. As far as whether anything illegal had been in the car, that too is also only by the statement of the driver. I am assuming the search turned up nothing but as to what had been in the car on previous occasions, we truly have no idea.
This is why I have no association with any political party. This was a bonafide setup with the Libertarian Parties approval. This is why they haven’t been able to elect anyone to the major political offices and have had little effect on the political atmosphere of our Country. That is another topic for another time. I was a Police Officer for over 23 years and taught Officers what procedures and laws were. I have dealt with many of these type of individuals who feel that the Police do not have the right to stop them, search them, write them citations or in some cases even to arrest them. Constitutionalists, Posse Comitatus, Aryans, the list goes on and on. They all want to test the system, protest the system and laws. The Officers who enforce the laws are not the ones that can change the laws and do not make the laws, that is the job of legislatures, judges and lawyers. Officers are paid to enforce the laws and some do so with protest but are ordered by command staff or lose their jobs. As I stated, these are the cold hard facts, take or leave them, this is the world we live in. A lawyer can argue any of these points as being wrong but this is according to training, court decisions and procedures that are deemed legal.
This is an opinion and is not a lawyers legal determination. Do not take any action based on this posting.