“Please come to Lee County and drive around……If a driver refuses to roll down their window they will be arrested.”
Tampa Bay, Florida – Last week we reported on a amazing DUI checkpoint video that has since gone viral, with over 1.8 million views as of Wednesday morning.
In the video, Jeff Gray pulled up to the checkpoint, deputies shined a light on the flyer by the group FairDUI.org, took a few seconds to study it, then sent him on his way.
The checkpoint in Chiefland, Florida, held by the Levy County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Highway Patrol, was legal, as the U.S. Supreme Court has held such checkpoints to be valid.
After seeing the video, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said that if you attempt to exercise your rights in this manner in Pinellas County, you will be arrested.
“It’s about doing the right thing and we are trying to do the right thing to protect the public and keep drunks who kill people off the road,” said Gualtieri, according to FOX 13.
Of course Gualtieri gives no mention as to the rights of citizens to freely travel without being treated as suspects, citizens who have done nothing wrong being forced to prove that they aren’t doing anything wrong after being randomly stopped by police without any reasonable suspicion, simply for the act of operating a vehicle on a public road.
FairDUI.org Founder, creator of the DUI flyer and South Florida Attorney Warren Redlich says the idea is not about protecting the drunks.
“A lot of people are uncomfortable with the idea that police can just stop you for no reason,” Redlich said. “If you are not comfortable with that, this is a good way of handling a checkpoint.”
Gualtieri went on to say, “The deputy can’t assess the person. And, if you can’t assess them, you are obstructing the investigation. Just because you dangle in a bag with your drivers license, insurance card and registration out the window doesn’t mean you’re not drunk.”
But Redlich had a very diffferent outlook on things.
“There are good cops and there are bad cops. The purpose of this flier is to protect innocent people from bad cops,” said Redlich.
While there have been cases of Floridians arrested for refusing to roll down their window, with officers in some instances going so far as breaking the window, according to attorneys, refusing to roll down your window is legal in Florida and you cannot legally be arrested or have your window broken for refusing.
As a disclaimer, this does not mean that officers will abide by the law and follow the constitution. Just because it is legal to do something does not mean that you will not be arrested or brutalized for asserting your rights.
In addition to Sheriff Gualtieri, Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott, has issued a direct threat to Gray, or anyone else who chooses to flex their rights under the law, in relation to the recent viral video.
During a radio interview with WFSX-FM, Scott starts talking about DUI checkpoints around the six minute mark, and then issued a threatening and seemingly illegal challenge to Jeff Gray and FairDUI.org.
“I challenge him…to please come to Lee County and drive around,” Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott said, referring to Jeff Gray. “Eventually he’ll find one of our checkpoints and he’ll try his luck. He’ll go to jail.”
“By not rolling your window down, you’re interfering with our investigation,” Scott said. ”If a driver refuses to roll down their window they will be arrested.”
In typical cop fashion, these two sheriffs, by threatening unlawful arrest of citizens, are attempting to abuse their authority under the color of law, by threatening to take people to jail for actually complying with the legalities and requirements, under the law, of a DUI checkpoint, but not in the specific manner that the cops want compliance.
According to Tampa DUI Attorney, Elliot Wilcox, the actions of the driver are fully legal and not grounds for arrest.
“It’s legal, but you draw attention to yourself,” Wilcox said. “When you draw attention to yourself, then you’d better be squeaky clean going through because otherwise, you give them another reason to pay attention to you. If you are not squeaky clean, that could be the worst thing that happens to you.”
What these sheriffs fail or simply refuse to realize, is that Gray was fully within his rights to simply present them with the required information while not saying a word, as he went through the checkpoint, as long as officers did not have a reasonable articulable suspicion of him committing a crime as to detain him.
Redlich also made a point to note that the windows-up approach has been tried seven times at Florida checkpoints, and police have never once detained the driver using it.
These sheriffs may wish to rethink their threats to violate people’s civil rights by illegally arresting citizens or they very well may find themselves drowning in federal civil rights lawsuits.
Although it may sometimes seem futile, remember to always file a complaint when you feel your rights have been violated, as to create a record and paper trail of what has taken place for future consideration.
After hearing about the sheriff’s threats, Redlich responded,
“We will continue to fight for the Constitution and to expose government officials who fail to honor their oaths.
These sheriffs are a disgrace to their position and uniform. Their threats to disregard the Constitution unfairly diminish all the good cops in all the checkpoint videos we’ve done so far.”
Be sure to keep flexing your rights and filming all encounters with law enforcement to protect your rights and hold law enforcement accountable to upholding their oath to the Constitution.
Here is what the FairDUI.org flyer states:
I remain silent
I want my lawyer
Please put any tickets under windshield wiper.
–CPLR §308 & Pacamor, 132 Misc.2d 269 (1986)
I have to show you my papers not hand them to you.
–VTL §312(b), §401(4), §507
Thus I am not opening my window.
I will comply with clearly stated lawful orders.
Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, freethinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay’s work has previously been published on BenSwann.com and WeAreChange.org. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu.