A friend of mine is a student of traffic law. He sent me an email complaining that the Constitution and common law seem to be suspended in the context of a traffic stop. He was especially concerned by the fact that the police can stop drivers along the roads and highways and essentially arrest us without a warrant.
I replied with a notion that I’ve never researched and which could be completely mistaken–but which has been rattling around in the back of my brain for most of a decade:
The usual traffic stop starts with the flashing of emergency lights.
I suspect the traffic ticket and possible arrest are based on the alleged existence of an “emergency“.
If the existence of an “emergency” were effectively denied, could there be a lawful traffic stop or traffic ticket?
Under the pretext of “emergency,” the laws are suspended and the occifer may be thereby empowered to do whatever he likes. For example, it might be illegal to drive more than 15 MPH on a one way street in a school zone. But if someone is shooting at you and creating an “emergency,” you have the right to drive at 50 MPH in reverse, going the wrong way on the one-way street in order to avoid being shot or killed. In the context of an emergency, normal laws are suspended and the only principle that I know of is “survival”.
The Constitution of The State of Texas requires that all proposed laws be read aloud on three separate days in the state legislature before they can be voted on. The legislature escapes that constitutional mandate by declaring there’s an “emergency” so they can vote on the law as soon as it’s been mentioned just one time. This procedure illustrates that the state legislature routinely violates the terms of the State constitution by simply declaring an “emergency”. There is no actual emergency, but under the pretext of an “emergency,” the state legislators can “legally” commit unconstitutional acts. Therefore, it’s not unreasonable to suspect that some similar suspension of the laws could take place whenever the traffic cop turns on the emergency lights or emergency siren.
Similarly, when an “emergency vehicle” (ambulance or fire truck) is flashing its “emergency lights,” that vehicle is exempt from normal traffic laws and can speed, run traffic lights and stop signs or drive the wrong way up one-way streets. Again, a “state of emergency” can excuse people from obeying ordinary laws. So a “state of emergency” can effectively suspend ordinary laws.
Therefore, it seems possible that arrests (or at least detentions) are lawful without warrants within the context of an alleged “emergency“.
It’s not impossible that the flashing “emergency” lights on a cop car mark a small, special venue within which the constitution, common law, etc. are presumed to be suspended.
It may be that once the occifer turns on his emergency lights and you don’t object, you are presumed to have consented and agreed that you and the occifer are in a “state of emergency”.
It’s even conceivable that under the “The State vs this state” hypothesis, “this state” may ultimately be presumed to be a “state of emergency”.
Perhaps the best approach is to ask the occifer when he approaches you, “What’s the emergency?” If/when the occifer answers, expressly deny the existence of an emergency–other than the fraudulent emergency the occifer himself created by flashing his emergency lights, pulling you over on the side of the road and increasing the odds that you’ll both be hit by another car. You might even find a phrase to include over your signature on the traffic ticket that denies the existence of emergency or, in the alternative, declares the “state of affairs” to be one of “peace”.
I wouldn’t bet on it, but it’s conceivable that by pasting a “flag of peace” decal, hanging in the vertical position on the back of your car, you might create evidence that you are driving “without” a “state of emergency”.
It might be possible to argue that the occifer did not “observe” a state of emergency that was created by the driver of the car he stopped. Instead, it may be that the occifer “created” the alleged “state of emergency” by flashing his lights and placing both driver and the occifer in danger of being hit by passing traffic. It might be argued that the occifer “created” the “state of emergency” as a fraudulent pretext for the sake of suspending the constitution and common law and thereby depriving you of their protections–and then extorting a traffic fine from the driver “under the color of law”. That would be one helluvan argument, if it could be sustained.
I’ve never really studied the concept of “emergency”. But if research showed that the traffic stop is ultimately based on an alleged “emergency,” then the key question may be whether a genuine emergency was caused by the driver being ticketed and actually existed before the cop turned on his emergency light, or if the occifer himself created a false/fraudulent emergency by turning on his flashers, suspending the constitution and common law, and causing the driver to stop in a dangerous condition along the side of the road in order to be subjected to a fraudulent fine.
I have a hunch that if we found the definition of “emergency” in the traffic code, we could learn how to effectively refute the existence of an alleged but fraudulent “emergency”. If there’s no emergency, they’d have no basis to flash their lights. If they can’t flash their lights, they can’t stop us from continuing to drive and there’d be no traffic stops.
Or, you could travel with a box of glazed, jelly-filled donuts and offer to give one to the occifer if he let’s you go.
So, anyone have any insight into the concept of “emergency”? Is an “emergency” critical to the presumed “legality” of traffic stops?