Viral DUI video raises legal questions

Viral DUI video raises legal questions

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"You have the right to be rude. You have the right to be surly. You also have the right to go to jail," attorney Greg Isaacs said. "You have the right to be rude. You have the right to be surly. You also have the right to go to jail," attorney Greg Isaacs said.
The driver, Chris Kalbaugh, captured this video during a checkpoint on July 4. The driver, Chris Kalbaugh, captured this video during a checkpoint on July 4.

By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A viral video of a DUI checkpoint in Middle Tennessee has many people wondering about their rights at those kinds of stops.

The driver, Chris Kalbaugh, captured the video during a checkpoint on July 4. The 21-year-old is a member of the Libertarian Party of Tennessee.

The group later said it was concerned about the DUI checkpoints and had advised members to record their interactions if they came across one.

6 News legal analyst Greg Isaacs sat down to look over the video and explain what a driver's rights are at the stops.

The video starts off with this exchange when Kalbaugh refuses to roll down his window more than a few inches:

Officer: "Go ahead and roll your window down."

Kalbaugh: "This is fine."

Officer: "That's fine? Why is that fine?"

Kalbaugh: "Because I can hear you."

Isaacs says immediately the driver is getting himself into trouble by refusing to comply.

"For me it's a recipe for being arrested at a roadblock. The one thing he does is act very disrespectful to the officer," Isaacs explained.

As the confrontation continues the officer's voice gets louder and his tone gets more aggressive.

Officer: "I need you to pull over to the side right there."

Kalbaugh: "Am I being detained?"

Officer: "Pull over to the side right there."

Kalbaugh: "Am I being detained?"

Isaacs says the driver knew what to ask.

"The individual kept asking some magic legal terms, 'Am I being detained?' That's an important question because once you are detained you are legally under arrest, because your liberty has been confined. You're not free to leave, that means any statement that you give could be suppressed if you're not Mirandized (given a Miranda warning about your rights)," Isaacs explained.

In the video the officer repeats the command to pull over or get out of the vehicle. Kalbaugh finally obeys.

"You don't have to answer all of the officer's questions," Isaacs said. "Under the Fifth Amendment you have the right not to incriminate yourself. However, if you don't comply with the officers instructions, move the car as we saw in the video, that could be a crime in itself."

Isaacs says officers can ask you for your license or for you to step out of the car, but there are some things you don't have to answer. 

"Here's where the Constitution meets the DUI checkpoint. For example, a lot of times the first question is, ‘Have you had anything to drink?' Well in reality there has to be a reasonable suspicion before they can ask you that question," Isaacs said.

Isaacs said as a driver you do not have to answer how many drinks you've had, nor do you have to take a field sobriety test. But you need to comply with orders.

As for whether you have to do it politely?

"You have the right to be rude. You have the right to be surly. You also have the right to go to jail," Isaacs said.

Whether you believe Kalbaugh is being rude or not, there are points where he disobeys the officer's request.

"The young man did a lot of things right and a lot of things wrong. The officer did a lot of things right, a lot of things wrong," Isaacs concludes at the end of the video.

The Rutherford County Sheriff's Office says officers are reviewing the video and investigating the incident to determine if there were any violations.

Isaacs says the key to staying out of trouble is simple.

"Be respectful, be polite," he said, "but be very mindful of your rights when you go through this process."

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