Appellate Court Upholds Suspicionless Roadblocks

Published On December 20, 2012 | By CopBlock | Articles

There is no doubt we live in Police State America.

Stopping motorists who have done nothing wrong to ask for their papers is perfectly legal, the Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled last week. The three-judge panel decided simple statistics overcame the constitutional challenge mounted by Johnny E. Monk, whose stop at a roadblock led to a four-year prison sentence because his papers were not in order.

On August 28, 2009, Monk was headed home, while towing a disabled vehicle, as he passed through Sullivan County on State Road 44 in a 1990 Chevy pickup truck. When he came up to the intersection of Possum Creek and Old River Pike, however, he was stopped by a driver’s license checkpoint that had been set up by the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Monk had no license or proof of insurance because his license had been suspended for a previous drunk driving offense. Trooper Robert Johnson admitted on the stand that Monk had not been driving erratically.

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution prohibits warrantless searches of a person without individualized suspicion of wrongdoing, but the courts have authorized roadblocks under what California DUI Attorney Lawrence Taylor calls the “DUI exception to the Constitution.”

“Seizures conducted pursuant to a police roadblock are sometimes excepted from the warrant requirement,” Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer wrote for the court. “The United States Supreme Court has held that, under some circumstances, suspicionless temporary checkpoints to search for drunk drivers are reasonable and, thus, comply with the Fourth Amendment.”

The Tennessee Supreme Court established a balancing test to determine whether a roadblock advanced a specific public interest that justified the infringement on individual liberty and privacy. The court determined the checkpoint here was justified because of the number of accidents caused by drivers with licensing problems.

“The state provided statistics indicating that 13.9 percent of all fatal crashes statewide in 2008 involved drivers with revoked licenses, suspended licenses, or no license,” Judge Wedemeyer wrote. “Additional statistics revealed that 25.8 percent of the drivers involved in accidents between 2005 and 2009 in Sullivan County were charged with driver’s license related charges.”

At the checkpoint where Monk was stopped, troopers issued one ticket for a suspended license and three tickets for other minor paperwork violations. The court ruled the issuance of these tickets proved the state achieved its goal.

“The state has provided statistics in support of its contention that the roadblock is related to maintaining highway safety,” Judge Wedemeyer wrote. “These statistics provide individualized suspicion and support the conclusion that unlicensed drivers are an imminent threat to the safety of motorists on the public roads in Tennessee and, specifically, in Sullivan County.”

Source

Tennessee v. Monk ruling

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  • Backfire

    “The state provided statistics indicating that 13.9 percent of all fatal crashes statewide in 2008 involved drivers with revoked licenses, suspended licenses, or no license,” Judge Wedemeyer wrote. “Additional statistics revealed that 25.8 percent of the drivers involved in accidents between 2005 and 2009 in Sullivan County were charged with driver’s license related charges.”

    Ummmm, doesn’t that mean the other 86.1% of all fatal crashes statewide in 2008 involved drivers withOUT revoked licenses, valid licenses, or a license? And that 74.2% of the drivers involved in accidents between 2005 and 2009 in Sullivan County were NOT charged with any driver’s license related charges?

    Seems to me that licensed drivers are more dangerous, just sayin…

  • T

    “Unreasonable searches and seizures”. The key is the word unreasonable. Doesn’t say none. Only unreasonable ones.

  • John Q Public

    This has already been decided by the U. S. Supreme Court. I’m sure that the Tennessee Court of Appeals is using that as a guideline.

  • shawn

    @T

    Nothing the government does is unreasonable in their own opinion any more. For cops, any activity, including my effort to avoid police attention on Thanksgiving by scrupulously watching my driving, is automatically suspicious behavior. It is suspicious if we are OBEYING the law now.

    RS,PC, and all the rest have lost any real meaning.

  • BluEyeDevil

    So what is “reasonable”, does reasonable mean just driving down the road or does reasonable mean just because the cop feels like it…pretty gray area if you ask me! Criminals trying catch innocent people. What is funny is that the courts are just an arm of the machine that is going to far in destroying the bill of rights. A bunch of unconstitutional nonsense. You should be ashamed of yourselves. All in the name of fucking drugs and a persons right to be an idiot.
    Hey common, T, JQP or any other sympahtizers and enablers of the other end of the arguement, this is an off subject hypothetical question but what will you do or think should be done when law enforcement is forced to dissarm the public?????
    What will you do with your facts then? They kinda go out the window at that point! It’s pretty clear what the agenda of the current administration and liberal media is. It’s coming down the pipe that is for sure. LOL, They are going to force you into a suicide mission because you will lose that fight with the armed American public. No doubt about it! We know where you live, where you sleep, where your kids are, we know everything about you, we outgun you 100 fold, we out man you 100 fold, and whether you believe it or not we are better organized and trained than you and your kind. All hypothetically speaking of course.

  • in.S.O.L.

    YEAH! What he said was…

  • t.

    Devil: huh? As is the usual around here, straight to the extreme we go. The constitution, among other things, limits the activities of the federal government. Limits. Not excludes government oversight (which would pretty much describes what government is). Don’t forgetthat tthe states all have their own constitutions and the states can act on there own to pass laws for their citizens. Now the “bill of rights” lays out some specific rights quarnteed to the people. But even those have some limitations. A great example is the first amendments right to peaceably assemble. Peaceably. Once its not peaceable…that right is forfeit.

    So if you want to live in some sort of extreme, bad fantasy land…go ahead. But you are truly laboring under the huge misconception that there are lots of people that think the way you do and hate the police. The evidence shows otherwise.

  • Jean

    “Public interest” will always trump the individual; the “collective good” always outweighs the good of the individual.

    Easy example: Shoot a cop, the entire COUNTRY will hear about it, and they will ALL be looking for you, because you hurt, “One of their own.”
    Now, BY DEFINITION, that’s an “us against them” mentality. And the chances of you gettign to trial, even if (maybe especially if) you’re provably NOT GUILTY? Self-defense, for instance – drunk cop pulls a gun in a bar, you smash him in the face with your fist; he has an aneurism and dies. You’re guilty of murdering a cop. Period, no trial, not investigation, you comitted the crime of KILLING A POLICE OFFICER, one of the High and Mighty arbiters of our laws.

    I foresee an increase in ice-pick deaths coming soon.
    As BluEyeDevil puts it, “we” outnumber you, “we” outgun you, and “we” know where you live.

    Stay away from vicious SOBs like me. I’m unarmed, have no guns, and I’m not going to bother walking around with a sword – too obvious and ungainly.
    But I have your address… And I have time. And I’m invisible, though I could be moreso. (Don’t even bother with TOR or similar security measures.) If it’s war you want, though…

    Make sure your family’s in Bolivia, or China, or cuba, or Paraguay or something, and don’t make it obvious by forwarding mail or something… At least then I only have YOU as a target, with that bright, shiny shield saying, “Insert bullet here.”

    You want a war, government and “law and order” types, well – I’ll help you as best I can, and at that point, there IS no “law and order” – it’s an open WAR. The whole concept of the social contract is destroyed. If I have no reason to be “secure in my person and papers”, as per Fourth Amendment, why should I stop for a pig? I’m better off running it over, then “comforting” the widow…

    Do you see how ugly it can get, and how quickly?
    And I WISH I was alone. Or insane. Either way, I’d be a fringe, a statistical anomaly, the “random chromosome.” But as you push more and more, trying to reduce people to animals – you’ll get various levels of resistance. Some of us are sheep; some of us are sheepdogs; some of us are bears, wolves, lions, or worse. We sheathe our claws and blend in, because there’s no NEED to just be predatory – we can be civilized and live just fine, as long as everyone else is civilized, too. But you who support such violations of the “social contract,” you are not civilized, and not satisfied controlling yourself – you would control US, instead.

    If you’re lucky, we’ll kill you.
    Unlucky, we’ll kill your family, too.
    If we really hate you? LOTS of creative tortures, and statistically… Some of us will get off on that.
    And some of “us” are even sicker, and I can’t imagine what they’d do… But I’d guess it would be painful, and designed to (a) hurt the target, (b) hurt those close to the target, (c) serve as a warning to others. This is the level where meat grinders and wood chippers are merciful.

    Or, you could, ya know… BACK OFF and let us live our lives in peace, and actually pursue CRIMINALS (who may well do all I’ve outlined above occasionally… But their motive is PROFIT, not survival. I doubt they’d be interested in families, or brutality, 9 out of 10 times. The type of villian you create – will do these evils 11 out of 10 times. It’s now PERSONAL…
    And if you’ve already unjustly imptisoned someone in thier family? Killed a family member? Murdered their pet?

    People already see you as evil blue-uniformed thugs. Why ADD to that? It’s poking a bear with a stick – sooner or later, the bear responds, and one paw swipe is all it will take to finish things (hint: doesn’t end in YOUR favor.) Despite the weapons, body armor, no-knock warrants, and all the toys – you’re still soft targets. You’re ALSO still part of the populace. YOU can be killed by blue-uniformed thugs just as easily as we can… So it’s suicidal as well, as those who “get results” (means be damned) will eventually be promoted – and suddenly, you realize you’re BREAKING the law more than enforcing it. You get no support from the populace – those who aren’t sheep know what you are – sheep are worthless, may even have been turned against you as a “BAA-A-A-D MAN!”
    No allies then, no way to defend a family police and revolutionaries BOTH gunning for you…

    My point is, there’s NO WAY this shite ends well for this society. You either block immoral and unConstitutional laws, or you start the ball rolling to where we are now. And beyond, which gets messy.

  • BluEyeDevil

    T: It was a hypothetical question asked of the cops that troll this site and like usual you had enough time to tell me what an extremest that I am but putting your dirty hands down a couple of womans pants and finger raping them is policy….most would say that is extreme. So like usual go fuck yourself because nobody gives a fuck what you think. Oh by the way, why won’t you answer the question I asked you. I would be affraid if I were you!!!!
    Bet you think Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Andrew Jackson and lot were extremist too.

  • Jean

    t. says:
    @ December 21, 2012 at 9:13 am

    t.,
    I don’t think most people here want anarchy. But you’ve missed the fact we’re MOSTLY there, we just call it “Democracy.” Lots of factors contributed (mostly cowardice and greed of the populace, that’s usually where it will start – “Democracy is over the moment the people learn they can vote themselves largesse from the public trough.” ALL “social programs” fall into that.)

    As for the whole question of the 10th Amednment / State’s rights: THAT is what the Civil War was fought over. Lincoln ensured that the South would be beaten (not that he had to work hard at it in some regards: Manpower, manufacturing facilities, railroads for rapid transit). But it effectively settled the question of who was sovereign: the States, or the Union (State). The Federal State, having proven effective at killing American civiliains as well as Confederate soldiers, was the winner, and started consolidating power. I personally believe it was made worse by the assassination of Lincoln – he supposedly wanted to move forward and not punish the South, but with his death, Congress pushed many “reparations” onto the Confederate states. Carpetbaggers, Jim Crow, various tax increases – all from the NORTHERN overseers. (So was most of the racism, BTW – southerners had grown up with blacks, northerners saw the black as competition, and less than human.)

    Lastly, you claim that rights are only present when the intent is PEACABLE.
    Now the “bill of rights” lays out some specific rights quarnteed to the people. But even those have some limitations. A great example is the first amendments right to peaceably assemble. Peaceably. Once its not peaceable…that right is forfeit.

    First off, as I think others have mentioned elsewhere, this is an incorrect understanding. The first 9 Amendments are all INDIVIDUAL rights. the 10th is both individual, AND collective – to the STATES, plural, and the PEOPLE, both individauls and the plurality we call society.
    If we go back one more document, however –

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

    As Ben Franklin put it, “All revolutions are illegal in the Third Party – THEIR revolution. They are all Legal in the First party, OUR revolution.”

    IF the police are the “enforcement” arm of the government – IE, executive branch – AND they no longer act in accordance with the laws, let alone the laws being unjust or illegal – then the government itself IS, BY DEFINITION, a Tyranny; it no longer has ANY legitimacy according to the goverened; and therefore it is our DUTY AND RIGHT to overthrow it and replace it.

    Hey, we replace our current mess with the original, I think we’ll all be OK. Except maybe you cops who get off on power, you’ll go back to no-unifrom street thugs. Fear is the only power you have, you see, since you’ve shown that en masse you’re duplicitous, immoral, and willing to do illegal things to jockey your social standing in the blue ranks. (Translates to power outside just the ranks; fits a primal drive for status as status and power gets better women, so the male aspect is obvious. Female I’m not so sure of, these days – might be the exact same. And then there’s that 0.0001% of the force that wants to pursue justice, I figure they get tossed out by psych evaluations. Good example, watch the recuitment sequence in “SWAT” where they interview Johnny Milquetoast. Don’t know the character name, but he’s rejected from SWAT because he’s not looking to go in, guns blazing, and shoot everything that moves – basically what Samuel L Jackson’s character says to Colin Farrel’s character. He WANTED someone violent – a rabid dog he could turn loose on a target.

    Now, if citizens act the same, we call them (rightly) criminals, or mentally deficient.
    But you and your superiors are criminalizing EVERYTHING – and therefore everyONE – and we are all guilty, the question is only, OF WHAT?

    So, we are the same as the rabid dogs we call criminals? I’ll die on my feet rather than live on my knees. And I’m NOT rabid, so I’ll be far more meticulous in my planning, and far more destructive.
    The sweeteners you use? Poisoned.
    The car you drive? IED.
    Your family? Tragic accidents.
    Me? I’m in another state… Police there have the photos from the ATM machines, the airport security, the license plates on my car, etc, etc, etc. Or, I don’t exist. Or, I’m not really connected – and the planner and executor KNOW it, and will find ways to publicize it – so even when the exculpatory evidence is suppressed, in the “public interest” of “punishing the guilty” and “establishing such crimes will not go unanswered”…

    Your side will come out smelling like SHIT. Even AFTER the details are revealed.

    Or, again – BACK OFF, refuse to follow immoral and illegal mandates, deal with REAL CRIMES, and we can all have a decent life.

    Down this path is ruin for us all, but it’s better than following the path to completion – we become “work units” or “batteries” of a sort (matrix), a collection of “human resources.” That’s ALL of us, too. And it’s BAD for all human organisms.

  • t.

    Devil: Huh again? Well, I’ll ask a hypothetical question. What will you do when the mole people from the center of earth rise IP and dig a hole under your house and steal it? That’s just a reasonable question as yours. No one mentions taking your guns. That is an unreasonable fear. Maybe its the marijuana making you paranoid ( you do know that is a well known side effect right?). There no such movement being discussed (unless its some conspiracy theory you believed in). And if you haven’t figured it out yet…you need to figure it out that the more liberal type politicians that you elected as they are more into “freedom”, as in they like dope users and want their votes…are the one’s against gun ownership. The folks me and mine support…are the pro-gun people. The vastly overwhelming number of cops are pro-gun and tend to be conservative in their politics. Now they, like many others may vote different due to other concerns, but by the very nature of our jobs….we tend to be “pro law and order” types of people. So no, I can’t answer such a ridiculous question. Its foundation is so crazy that it defies any logic.

  • in.S.O.L.

    Bullshit! I listened to at least two different pinheads talking about adopting Australia’s gun laws on mainstream media this week. Australia banned “assault weapons”. Then they went on to go door to door, confiscating them. There is a movement in this country calling for the disarmament of the people. Lets see how that works out for you.

  • shawn

    @T

    There is no doubt in most people’s minds that if the government does ban guns, that the cops will happily enforce it. They did so in New Orleans, even though they were completely incapable of actually protecting anyone.
    Of course NO is one of those anti-gun police departments you claim don’t exist. That sheriff couldn’t wait to go gun grabbing.

  • BluEyeDevil

    @T. LOL, you are funny guy and your banter just shows your lack of intelligence. To assume that everyone in this forum is, how do you put it, “dope users”. Again no one respects you. No thanks, weed makes me feel like eating a donut, and I fucking hate donuts. To say that my concerns of gun consfication are not justified would be living a perfect world of rainbows and unicorns. Do you believe in unicorns? You like to talk facts, well lets talk facts. Corrupt governments have used weapon confiscation as tool to disarm populations through out history, do I really need to give you examples. These governments have used law enforcement to achieve their agenda.
    I asked you simple hypothetical question and that seems to bother you. Which by the way, you still haven’t answered. As for me being a conspiracy theorist, the signs are pretty blatant to me and more and more people believe exactly what I do. So I guess your world view of rainbows and unicorns is the only truth. You are right, it has not happened yet, but it will be coming to a neighborhood near you soon. And to call me a liberal, LOL what a fucking joke. I’m about as middle of the isle as you can get and tend to lean more to a constitutional republic. I to am pro-gun, to stop a tyrannical government and its agents. Exactly how it was intended to be used in the constitution. I feel the federal reserve should be abolished from printing fiat currency and go back to gold standard. Entitlements, including cop pensions, are the scourge that is bankrupting this nation and need serious reform. The borders with mexico need to be shut clear and simple, not because I am a xenophobic racist but because our country cannot absorb the socio-economic and fiscal problems that open borders bring to an already broke nation. Most importantly unions especially public unions need to be abolished. If you want to work in public service than you are to serve the public. So now that we have established that I am probably much more of a conservative person than you profiled me as. Your arguement that the majority of cops are conservative in their politics is a joke especially when you start talking about public unions, entitlements and pension reform.
    I can tell your a cop who profiles people because you tried profiling me, you are obviously not very good at it. So let me do a little profiling of you. You are a middle aged, fat, greying or bald headed, law enforcement officer, you have a low self esteem with a superiority complex, who is frightened of the dark figuratively. You hate your wife, because she is opinionated and not as submissive as you would like her to be. You tend to cry when you are alone to sad songs because you have issues with wearing your emotions on your sleeve. You have a violent side and treat people with disrespect because you were molested by your father as a child and your mother left you because of an abusive man in her home. You were taunted and ridiculed in school and never really fit in so you turned to the mutilation and torture of animals. Does that sound about right T.

  • t.

    Oh. OK then.

  • BluEyeDevil

    Hey T. I get the last word motherfucker

  • Shawn

    @Blue

    “And to call me a liberal, LOL what a fucking joke.”

    To cops, anyone who doesn’t automatically support them is a Liberal. Which is interesting since libs generally rely on government enforcement of their agendas that the rest of us won’t voluntarily participate in.

    I’ve referred the cops here to freerepublic.com a few times, where they can see a lot of true blooded Conservatives aren’t quite as enamored of LE as cops would like.

    Oh, I get the last word until someone comes in behind me.

  • BluEyeDevil

    @shawn,
    LEO’s are only conservative when it suits their outlook on life. You cannot be a true conservative and work for the state, simple as that. For starters, public unions are inherently liberal in their views as a whole, which by the way T. is a part of. Putting the business plan of the union aside, the pensions these cops get is rediculous and truly bankrupting many states. The funny thing is that cops think they should be entitled to not only a pension including pay and insurance but the ability to work in the private sector and collect a pension at the same time. Let me ask you a question? Can someone who is on disability collect disability checks and still have a regular job. It’s the same thing these cops think they are entitled to. There is that dirty word “entitlement”. The word literally means they have the right to leach off of the backs of the taxpayer and not even work for it. In my view that is as left leaning liberal as you can get. Exactly what socialism is by its very definition. The police are SOCIALISTS never let one tell you otherwise. If they try to argue the point just bring up their union and pension reform and that will shut them up real quick because like T. they are not real smart and have no rebuttle and are a contradiction.
    Oh by the way last word!

  • t.

    Devil: not in a union. Can’t even be in a union. Wow, something else that your wrong about. Most cops aren’t unionized and can’t be. Shockingly / frightenly wrong.

  • BluEyeDevil

    T,
    bet you get a state pension though, hypocrit

  • t.

    Nope. Thats what, like strike 1 thousand for you. You are life citing your this king because all you know about is maybe the departments where you live or the big one you here about on t.v. news like NYPD or even LAPD. Without looking it up right now…I think its like 87 % of all departments nationwide have less than 40 officers and like 75% have less then 15 guys. Many work in places that prohibit the very public sector unions you claim we all are in

    I work for a large department in the largest metropolitan area of my state. Most of the guys belong to one of a couple of groups like the PBA or something like it. Its an association with no collective bargaining powers but it pulls money to provide legal assistance when needed. But I will say that somewhat like unions….during election time, the “leaders” of these groups, whiile supporting conservative law and order type judges and prosectuers….they tend to sell out and support much more liberal politicians hoping for the “gimmie gimmie gimmie” type outcomes that so many of your fellow citizens follow. To me that’s bad for the country and state. But I just need the help with the legal assistance as there are so many frivolous lawsuits and complainants that are filed that we need some protections.

  • shawn

    @Blue
    @T

    Working for the govenment isn’t evil. Fleacing the public is. Ben Franklin worked for the government, as did millions of soldiers.
    I don’t mind that cops get a pension. I just mind those who are able to game they system to get a bigger one. And most government pensions are rediculous.
    I had a guard working for me who had a pension from city security. Why do we give pensions for a job when in the private world you wouldn’t get one? There was recently a teacher who bitched because she wasn’t going to be able to retire at 55 with a full pension. No one should be allowed to game the system, and they should have to wait for retirement age to cillect. No early pensions.

  • t.

    But people do get pensions and conti UE to work in the private sector. Heck, my dad retired, and then basically had 2 more careers after that…all in the private sector.