When I first heard of the video, I winced, but didn’t think it sufficiently worthwhile to waste my time. After all, there are always magic tricks being spread about the internet that claim to have found a cool, secret, magic way to beat the cops at their own game.
One self-promoter wrote a book that did pretty well teaching people to puke on themselves based on the premise that cops won’t arrest you if you’re covered in vomit because then they’ll have to clean up their cars. Then, there was the infamous Redemption Theory post at Bennett’s Defending People, where Mark gave the proponents of sovereign citizens a chance to smear their crazy all over the comments at his blog.
The latest along these lines, the plastic bag trick, was the subject of Matt Brown’s post at Tempe Criminal Defense.
An interesting DUI checkpoint video has been circulating lately. In it, the driver gets through without even rolling down his window, passing by with ease thanks to a plastic bag attached to his car with a string. The bag contained his license, registration, insurance information, and a note saying “I remain silent,” “No searches,” and “I want my lawyer.” As clever as it may be, it’s also dangerous to think it will always be that easy.
For those inclined to seek a magic trick to beat the cops at their own game, this is the sort of thing that grabs them by the throat and squeezes. And it would be a really cool trick, but for the fact that it’s ridiculously misguided and potentially very dangerous.
The most important thing any driver or rider can keep in mind when dealing with police is that the law does not exist in a vacuum. It only matters as applied to the facts, and except in the most unusual circumstances, courts are going to adopt whatever “facts” the officer provides. It is going to be your word versus his. The cop, a government employee and professional witness who most people believe has no reason to lie about anything, will tell a government-employee and probably-former-prosecutor-or-cop judge in a government-owned courtroom what happened.
It will almost invariably be a version of events that fits within the law as he or she understands it, and if it isn’t, the cop may well change his or her story after consulting with a prosecutor, or the courts may ultimately change decades or centuries of legal precedent to allow whatever it was the cop did. You probably have to have some pretty amazing evidence to overcome that.
On a less cynical level, it’s perfectly lawful for a cop to order you to open your window, step out of the car, or comply with any other command that he states is issued to further his safety. Officer safety is a legitimate basis for a command, and no judge, no court, will reject an officer’s establishing a command presence in the process of dealing with a stop.
But Greenfield, you moron, IT WORKED!!! Watch the video, dumbass.
And so I followed the link in Matt’s post to its source, PINAC, and I watched and read. So one cop wasn’t in the mood to smash the driver’s window, pull the driver out, throw him to the ground and cuff and arrest him. Some people get away with murder too. Care to try it?
My guess is that this time, the cops were sufficiently confused, amused, and not in the mood to become embroiled in an obvious likely internet sensation that they decided to take a pass. It’s not because this was the magic secret way to beat the system, but because it was a bizarre anomaly. It happens. It may even happen other times. It may also not happen, and it may also end up with a really bad outcome.
Who came up with this lamebrain idea? And there, Carlos Miller explained:
The Fair DUI flyer is the creation of South Florida attorney Warren Redlich, who once represented PINAC reporter Taylor Hardy pro bono in a case where Hardy was arrested for taking photos in public, but the case was dismissed when the cop never showed up to court.
Redlich also ran for New York governor in the 2010 race under the libertarian platform, so he’s not apt to unreasonable search and seizures.
Warren? Warren Redlich? You mean this Warren Redlich? This Warren Redlich? Oy. Warren is a nice enough guy, though his desperate need for attention was sad. He used to be a DWI lawyer outside of Albany, New York, running for office after office and crashing and burning. It was painful stuff.
Apparently, he’s now moved down to the sun of South Florida after upstate New York proved unaccommodating. And here he is, coming up with a bizarre scheme that is certain to grab the interest of those disinclined to be police-compliant.
But Greenfield, IT WORKED!!! What part of this are you not getting, dumbass?
Well, consider this detail:
While it’s not likely the Levy County deputies have encountered such a flyer before, they are probably well aware of Gray, being part of the network of law enforcement agencies who have stalked Gray for years through the Florida Fusion Center.
So they probably had a good idea of what he was trying to do.
The fact that the three other occupants in the car were holding up cameras also probably tipped them off that they were the subject of one of Gray’s infamous audits.
Even so, other Florida sheriffs made clear that there would be no repeat of this video.
Two sheriffs in particular, Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott and Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri have publicly threatened to arrest Gray if he dared try that antic in their counties.
I challenge him…to please come to Lee County and drive around,” Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott said. “Eventually he’ll find one of our checkpoints and he’ll try his luck. He’ll go to jail.”
And he will. So will you. And the judge will smack you for it. And so will the appellate court. And you will sit there in a cell pondering why this worked before but not for you.
So look for a future story when Gray, joined by Redlich and other PINAC crew members, take them up on their challenge to see if they actually do open themselves up to a lawsuit as they promise.
It’s bad enough that silliness like this gets spread across the internet so that someone who doesn’t have a half-dozen cameras blazing in their car will think this magic way to beat the system works, or that it will work when they get pulled over for drunk driving rather than a checkpoint, or any number of other permutations that will end badly.
But that there have been more than 2.2 million views of this video, as of this writing, based on Warren Redlich’s legal incisiveness suggests that there will be a whole lot of stupid happening on the roads. While this may comport with Warren’s libertarian politics, it’s just truly bad and deeply disturbing lawyering.
If you try this and things don’t work nearly as well as the video, give Warren a call. I’m sure he will be there to defend you pro bono. And maybe he’ll win, if the cop doesn’t show up again.