Image source: YouTube
Tennessee resident Chris Kalbaugh's recorded DUI checkpoint interaction with a police officer over the Fourth of July holiday went viral this week, where he said he was treated like a criminal without cause. Kalbaugh later admitted he planned the confrontation in order to test exercising his constitutional rights.
Here's what some of you had to say about the video:
The stated goal: Create a road block to get holiday drunks off the highways, and make the roadways safer.
In the 15 second argument the officer had with Mr. Constitution any reasonable person could determine that he likely wasn’t drunk. The smart thing was for the police officer to say: “Have a nice night, and drive safe.” He would have gotten Mr. Constitution out of his hair, and could move on with his job.
Instead he did what too damn many cops are doing. “This guy thinks he’s gonna give me a hard time? I’ll show him what a hard time is!”
Once that starts, it doesn’t end well for anyone.
Here we go, all cops are criminals, sue them all, we have no rights, the sky is falling!! waawaaaaawaaawaaaa!!! This kid got what he wanted, he could have been out of there is a few seconds, but he was there for video footage and turned it into a few minutes just to make himself a victim. Like it or not DUI roadblock laws are written by state legislators, signed by governors, and have been upheld by the courts for years, this is nothing new. Don’t like DUI laws in your state? How about instead of baiting the cops who are working on a holiday trying to keep the roads safe you petition you state representative? I guess more people will watch a video of you confronting the police than calling a senator.
They were both wrong.
First the kid antagonized the cop by not lowering the window. If he would have just done that, there would have been no problem. But by refusing he gave them cause to be suspicious.
The cops were wrong for scratching his car and then searching the car without permission. They should have pulled the guy over and called their supervisor, who should have got a search warrant.
I have to disagree with the driver in this particular incident. If I’m at a “checkpoint” which is set up to stop drunk driving, drug use while driving, driving irresponsibly in any way, and putting people’s lives at risk on the road which is what the “checkpoint” is all about I would just simply cooperate. What in the world is the point to get into arguments with police at a checkpoint? Now on the other hand police sticking their hands down a person’s pants, disrobing individuals, and ransacking vehicles is a bit much and police should know their limits. I think there can be respectful middle ground here. Just my thoughts. I’m a new driver and definitely don’t want to be on the road with irresponsible drivers putting themselves and other people in danger.
First, it is well-established by the US Supreme Court that DUI Checkpoints are almost always constitutional:
“[H]ighway sobriety checkpoint program, under which all vehicles passing through checkpoint are stopped and their drivers briefly examined for signs of intoxication, did not violate Fourth Amendment.” Michigan Dep’t of State Police v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444, 110 S. Ct. 2481, 110 L. Ed. 2d 412 (1990).
“Special law enforcement concerns, such as a sobriety checkpoint or a border patrol checkpoint, will sometimes justify highway stops without individualized suspicion.” Illinois v. Lidster, 540 U.S. 419, 124 S. Ct. 885, 157 L. Ed. 2d 843 (2004).
Second, once selected for a stop, officers can check for things like “drivers’ licenses, registration papers, and insurance…” United States v. Galindo-Gonzales, 142 F.3d 1217 (10th Cir. 1998).
Thus, if the officer needs to have the window completely down to conduct a proper investigation pursuant to the checkpoint to see/smell the driver for DUI – he can order the driver to do so.
Finally, it’s important that everyone here understand that in order to proceed with a full DUI investigation, the officer only needs “reasonable suspicion” that a crime may have been or is being committed… This is a much lower standard than the “probable cause” standard necessary to effectuate an arrest.
I know that I will receive backlash for posting this, but I found this article to be upsetting. My husband worked all night on the Fourth of July trying to keep our city safe, and I am extremely proud of what he does. If you are pulled over and give the police indication that you do not trust them, then they will not trust you. His actions are suspicious, and if you are acting like you are trying to hide something, they will look for something. Rolling down your window is a way for police to detect if alcohol is on your breath. That is likely the only reason that they insisted. On one of the biggest DUI days of the year, they were just trying to look out for the public, contrary to popular belief. If he would have just cooperated, there would have been no escalation of the situation. Please try to look at the big picture before publicly chastising them.
I saw this over the weekend and found the comments boil down to two lines of thinking:
1. The kid purposely set this situation up and made himself as non-compliant as possible. He had the camera on hand, used what is commonly thought of as “suspicious behavior,” refused to answer questions directly, was as unhelpful as possible. If he had answered the cops’ questions in a normal manner, he almost certainly would have been let go without incident.
2. The kid was within his constitutional and legal rights the entire time, and even if he was purposefully being uncooperative, he was not legally obligated to do anything other than what he did. He was polite and never raised his voice or threatened the officers, but he was still subjected to intimidation and a search on false pretenses (the K-9 unit being led by command to “find” suspicion of drugs).
I agree with both views. Just because he could have gotten away without incident by complying fully with police doesn’t mean he legally had to do so, nor does it give the police the right to intimidate and search his vehicle. He set out to be a thorn in their sides, and he succeeded. The police were in the wrong; being uncooperative does not give the police free reign to do as they please.
I hope at the very least the police are forced to pay for the scratches to the vehicle…but I doubt anything will come of it
As a retiree who was a police officer I am disgusted by this person behind that badge. He has too big an ego to be doing this job if this behavior is normal for him. He was offended , even though a professional police officer wouldn’t be, and he decided to teach this guy a lesson. To be honest seeing and hearing him I was surprised that the video had not been erased or somehow accidentally damaged.
I watched the video, and what this kid did was to give the officers probable cause. By him acting the way that he did, the officer was not able to assess the situation properly, and they have to err on the side of caution. That officer could not properly see in the car, and with the window up could not check for the smell of alcohol or weed nor could he see if there was a weapon on the seat of beside the driver. Every time the police run into something like this they have to assume that the driver is trying to hide something, and they have to go further. What if this kid had been smoking a joint and a roach was sitting in the ashtray and he had a gun next to him and the officer let him through without checking? If he made it through the checkpoint and got into a wreck everyone would be screaming and asking how he made it through.
People need to remember, the most dangerous time for an officer is when they pull a car over. They have no idea who they are pulling over, and it could very easily be a felon who is armed with a history of murder and carrying drugs, and if caught will go back to prison for the rest of his life. That driver is dangerous and would probably shoot the officer instead of going back to prison so they have to err on the side of caution. The next time that you get pulled over, watch and you will see the officer place his hand on the driver’s side of your vehicle. This is so that if something happens and they find the car involved, they can get his prints.
I’ve read the entire article and viewed the video and although I completely understand the issue here and how the officer was wrong, I can’t help but feel for him at the same time. I believe the reason the officer reacted this way is because our youth have no respect for authority or their elders. This cop has likely been confronted by many a punk in his time who’s parents scream and shout…”not my kid, little Bobby is an angel.” Being respectful to a person who’s job it is to protect and serve the public should be a given. They put their lives in harm's way on a regular basis willingly! Their goal is not to bully law abiding citizens. I understand that the exercise was to test constitutional rights, but really, this isn’t right the way to do so. I don’t think the officer was acting out of a mindset of violating a person’s constitutional rights, but rather a reaction to a person who is pushing his buttons. I mean really…how many innocent people would refuse to roll down the window vs. someone with something to hide or who has done something wrong. If he had rolled down his window, that would have been it and he would have gone his merry way.
We can see that the real criminals of Rutherford County, Tennessee, are the police who are taking away the constitutional rights of decent citizens and stomping them into the ground. This activity is happening all over the country, where police departments are sending out their forces like “Jack Booted Thugs” to intimidate good citizens to capitulate to their every command. The police know they are going against the constitution; they are part of the new United Fascist States of America. They are part of Obama’s “Civilian Army” (a term coined by Obama himself).
It is good that this video was produced, and that the police were stung. More citizens should do this action to show that many police departments are no longer in the business of protecting and serving, but are no more than “Jack Booted Thugs” taking away the rights of American citizens.
Good job Chris Kalbaugh.
Checkpoints are the problem, and they need to end. They are designed to create a situation where the police can search your vehicle without reasonable cause. They invite abuse. That cop wanted the window rolled down so he could stick his head into the car and sniff. That is a search, plain and simple. Stopping people for any reason is a form of detainment. The young man made the mistake of asserting his rights and asking questions, and he got hassled for it. He immediately came under even greater suspicion – for no cause whatsoever. He’s lucky they didn’t arrest him, beat him to a pulp and falsely charge him with all sorts of things. Cops really don’t like it when you tell them no – no matter how politely you say it. Officer safety is far more important than civil rights.