SPECIAL POLICE OFFICER BULLETIN
U.S. COURT DECISIONS
CONFIRM "DRIVING A MOTOR VEHICLE" IS A CITIZENS RIGHT AND NOT A GOVERNMENT
For many years Professionals within the criminal justice
System have acted upon the belief that traveling by motor vehicle upon the
roadway was a privilege that was gained by a citizen only after approval by
their respective state government in the form of the issuance of a permit or
license to that Particular individual.
Legislators, police officers and court officials are becoming aware that
there are now court decisions that prove the fallacy of the legal opinion that"
driving is a privilege and therefore requires government approval, i.e. a license". Some of these cases are:
legislature has no power to deny to a citizen the right to travel upon the
highway and transport his property in the ordinary course of his business or
pleasure, though this right may be regulated in accordance with the public
interest and convenience. -
Chicago Motor Coach v Chicago, 169 NE 22 ("Regulated" here means traffic
safety enforcement, stop lights, signs, etc. NOT a privilege that requires permission
i.e.- licensing, mandatory insurance, vehicle registration, etc.)
"The right of
the citizen to travel upon the public highways and to transport his property
thereon, either by carriage or by automobile, is not a mere privilege which a
city may prohibit or permit at will, but a common right which he has under the
right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."- Thompson v Smith,
154 SE 579.
It could not be stated more conclusively that Citizens of
the states have a right to travel, without approval or restriction (license),
and that this right is protected under the U.S. Constitution. Here are other court decisions that
expound the same facts:
"The right to
travel is a part of the liberty of which the citizen cannot be deprived without
due process of law under the 5th Amendment." - Kent v Dulles,
357 U.S. 116, 125.
"...completely within the protection of the Constitution as the... liberty to go when and where one will." Coppage v. Kansas, 236 U.S. 1, at 14, 23-24 (1915).
"Undoubtedly the right of locomotion, the right to remove from one place to
another according to inclination, is an attribute of personal liberty, and the
right, ordinarily, of free transit from or through the territory of any State is
a right secured by the l4th Amendment and by other provisions of the
Constitution." - Schactman v Dulles, 96 App D.C. 287, 293.
hard as it is for those of us in Law enforcement to believe, there is no room
for speculation in these court decisions.
The American citizen does indeed have the inalienable right to use the
roadways unrestricted in any manner as long as they are not damaging or
violating property or rights of another.
Government, in requiring the people to file for "drivers
licenses, vehicle registrations, mandatory insurance, and demanding they stop
for vehicle inspections, DUI/DWI roadblocks etc. without question, are
"restricting", and therefore violating, the Peoples common law right to
Is this a new legal interpretation on this subject of the
right to travel? Apparently
not. The American Citizens and
Lawmen Association in conjunction with The U.S. Federal Law Research Center are
presently involved in studies in several areas involving questions on
constitutional law. One of the many
areas under review is the area of "Citizens right to travel." In an interview a
spokesmen stated: "Upon researching this subject over many months, substantial
case law has presented itself that completely substantiates the position that
the "right to travel unrestricted upon the nations highways" is and has always
been a fundamental right of every Citizen."
This means that the "beliefs and opinions" our state
legislators, the courts, and those of as involved in the law enforcement
profession have acted upon for years have been in error. Researchers armed with actual facts
state that U.S. case law is overwhelming in determining that to restrict, in
any fashion, the movement of the individual American in the free exercise of
their right to travel upon the roadways, (excluding "commerce" which the state
Legislatures are correct in regulating), is a serious breach of those freedoms
secured by the U.S. Constitution,
and most state Constitutions, i.e. - it is Unlawful.
THE REVELATION THAT THE AMERICAN CITIZEN HAS ALWAYS HAD THE
INALIENABLE RIGHT TO TRAVEL RAISES PROFOUND QUESTIONS TO THOSE WHO ARE INVOLVED
IN MAKING AND ENFORCING STATE LAWS.
The first of such questions may very well be - If the
States have been enforcing laws that are unconstitutional on their face, it
would seem that there must be some way that a state can legally put
restrictions, such as - licensing requirements, mandatory insurance, vehicle
registration, vehicle inspections, D.W.I. roadblocks, to name just a few, on a
Citizens constitutionally protected right.
Is that not so?
For the answer to this question let us look, once again, to
the U.S. courts for a determination on this very issue.
The case of Hertado v. California, 110 U.S. 516 states very plainly: "The State cannot diminish rights of the
"the assertion of federal rights, when plainly and
reasonably made, is not to be defeated under the name of local practice."-
Davis v. Wechsler, 263 U.S.
Would we not say that these judicial decisions are straight
to the point - that there is no lawful method for government to put restrictions
or limitations on rights belonging to the people?
Other cases are even more straight forward:
"Where rights secured by the Constitution are involved,
there can be no rule making or legislation which would abrogate them." - Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 491.
"The claim and exercise of a constitutional right cannot be
converted into a crime." - Miller v. U.S., 230 F 2d 486, 489.
"There can be no sanction or penalty imposed upon one
because of this exercise of Constitutional rights."- Sherar v. Cullen,
481 F. 945. (There is no question that a
citation/ticket issued by a police officer, for no drivers license, no current
vehicle registration, no vehicle insurance etc. which carries a fine or jail
time, is a penalty or sanction, and is indeed "converting a Right into a
We could go on, quoting court decision after court
decision, however, In addition, the Constitution itself answers our question-
"Can a government legally put restrictions on the rights of the American people
at anytime, for any reason?'" (Such
as in this particular case - when the government believes it to be for the
safety and welfare of the people).
The answer is found in ARTICLE SIX of the U.S. Constitution:
"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which
shall be made in Pursuance thereof; ...shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and
the judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution
or Laws of any State to the Contrary not withstanding". (This tells us that the U.S. Constitution is to be upheld over any
state, county, or city laws that are in opposition to it.)
In the same Article it goes on to say just who it is within
our governments that is bound by this Supreme Law:
"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the
Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial
Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by
Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution;" - ART. 6, U.S. CONST.
We know that Police officers, are a part of the Executive
branch. We are "Executive
Article 6 above, is called the SUPREMACY CLAUSE, and it
clearly states that, under every circumstance, the above listed officials in
these United States must hold this document's tenets supreme over any other laws,
regulations, or orders. Every
U.S. Police officer knows that they
have sworn an oath to the people of our nation that we will not only protect
their lives and property, but, that we will uphold, and protect their freedoms
and rights under the Supreme laws of this nation, - the U. S.
In this regard then, we must agree that those within
government that restrict a Citizens rights, (such as restricting the peoples
right to travel,) are acting in violation of his or her oath of office and are
actually committing a crime against such Citizens. Here's an interesting question. Is ignorance of these laws an excuse for
such acts by officials?
If we are to follow the "letter of the law (as we are sworn
to do), this places officials that involve themselves in such unlawful acts in a
unfavorable legal situation. For it
is a felony and federal crime to violate, or deprive citizens of their
Constitutionally protected rights.
Our system of law dictates the fact that there are only two
ways to legally remove a right belonging to the people. These are - #1, by lawfully amending
the constitution, or #2, by a person knowingly waiving a particular
Some of the confusion in our present system has arisen
because many millions of people have waived their right to travel "unrestricted"
upon the roadways of the states and opted into the jurisdiction of the state for
various reasons. Those who have
knowingly given up these rights are now legally regulated by state law, the
proper courts, and "sworn, constitutionally empowered officers-of-the-law," and
must acquire proper permits, registrations, insurance, etc.
There are basically two groups of people in this
#1 - Any citizen that involves themselves in "commerce,"
(business for private gain), upon the highways of the state.
Here is what the courts have said about this:
"...For while a citizen has the right to travel upon the
public highways and to transport his property thereon, that right does not
extend to the use of the highways, either in whole or in part, as a place for
private gain. For the latter
purpose no person has a vested right to use the highways of the state, but is a
privilege or license which the legislature may grant or withhold at its
discretion..." - State v Johnson, 243 P. 1073, 1078.
court cases that confirm and point out the difference between the "right"
of the citizen to travel and a government "privilege" are - Barney v Board of
Railroad Commissioners; State v City of Spokane, 186 P. 864; Ex
Parte Dickey (Dickey v Davis), 85 S.E. 781; Teche Lines v Danforth,
12 So.2d 784.
There are numerous other court decisions that spell out the
JURISDICTION issue in these two distinctly different activities. However, because of space restrictions
we will leave it up to officers to research it further for themselves. (See last page for additional
#2 - The second group of citizens that are legally under
the jurisdiction of the state is the individual citizen who has voluntarily and
knowingly waived their right to travel "unregulated and unrestricted" by
requesting placement under such jurisdiction through the acquisition of a state
- drivers license, vehicle registration, mandatory insurance, etc. (In other words "by contract
We should remember what makes this "legal," and not a
violation of the individuals common law right to travel "unrestricted" is that
they knowingly volunteer, freely, by contract, to waive their right. If they were forced, coerced or
unknowingly placed under the states powers, the courts have said it is a clear
violation of their rights.
This in itself raises a very interesting question. What percentage of the people in each
state have filed, and received, licenses, registrations, insurance etc. after
erroneously being advised by their government that it was mandatory?
Many of our courts, attorneys and police officials are just
becoming informed about this important issue and the difference between
"Privileges vs. Rights". We can
assume that the majority of those Americans carrying state licenses, vehicle
registrations etc., have no knowledge of the rights they waived in obeying laws
such as these that the U.S.
Constitution clearly states are unlawful, i.e. "laws of no effect". In other words - "LAWS THAT ARE NOT LAWS
OUR SWORN DUTY! An area of serious consideration for every
police officer is to understand that the most important law in our land he has
taken an oath to protect, defend, AND ENFORCE, is not state laws, nor city or
county ordinances, but, that law that supersede all other laws in our nation, -
the U.S. Constitution. If laws in a particular police officer's
state, or local community are in conflict with the SUPREME LAW of our nation,
there is no question that the officer's duty is to "uphold the U.S.
What does this mean to the "patrol officer" who will be the
only sworn "Executive Officer" on the scene, when knowledgeable Citizens raise
serious objections over possession of insurance, drivers licenses and other
restrictions? It definitely means
these officers will be faced with a hard decision. (Most certainly if that decision effects
state, city or county revenues, such as the issuing of citations do.)
Example: If a state legislator, judge or a superior tells a
police officer to proceed and enforce a contradictory, (illegal), state law
rather than the Supreme Law of this country, what is that "sworn officer" to
do? Although we may not want to
hear it, there is but one right answer, - "the officer is duty bound to uphold
his oath of office" and obey the highest laws of the nation. THIS IS OUR SWORN DUTY AND IT'S THE
Such a strong honest stand taken by a police officer,
upholding his or her oath of office, takes moral strength of character. It will, without question, "SEPARATE THE
MEN FROM THE BOYS." Such honest and straight forward decisions on behalf of a
government official have often caused pressure to be applied to force such
officers to set aside, or compromise their morals or convictions.
As a solace for those brave souls in uniform that will
stand up for law and justice, even when it's unpopular, or uncomfortable to do
so...let me say this. In any legal
stand-off over a sworn official "violating" or "upholding" their oath of office,
those that would side with the "violation" should inevitable lose.
Our Founding Fathers assured us, on many occasions, the
Defending our freedoms in the face of people that would for
"expedients sake," or behind the guise, "for the safety and welfare of the
masses," ignore peoples rights, would forever demand sacrifice and vigilance
from those that desired to remain free.
That sounds a little like - "Freedom is not free!"
Every police officer should keep the following U.S. court
ruling, that was covered earlier, in mind before issuing citations in regard to
"mandatory licensing, registration and insurance" - verses - "the right of the
people to travel unencumbered":
"THE CLAlM AND EXERCISE OF A CONSTITUTIONAL RlGHT CANNOT BE
CONVERTED INTO A CRIME." - Miller v U.S., 230 F 2d 486. 489.
Right to Drive - 2
Right to Drive Handout: to hand out when you get a police stop for some innocent "infraction."
Driving brief and memorandum of law: Template can be used to challenge your state's driving laws. This is the actual material I sent to the Colorado DOR. (An updated version is available with more case law and evidence. General format can be used to challenge your state's driving laws... just replace relevant information and be sure to include your state's driving code, and send certified mail.)