A man travels down the road either as a traveler or as a driver / operator — the latter category denoting his activity behind the steering wheel as for profit and commercial. Police power and tax authority is evoked for any activity in car or truck that is for private profit and gain. (Photo department of safety)
Mayor Andy Berke visits a new plant in Chattanooga. Mr. Berke has refused to withdraw from his servants in the department of police a practice of arrest without warrant and of enforcing the state transportation and privilege statutes at Tenn. Code Ann. § Title 55, motor and other vehicles. (Photo mayor’s office)

Are sheriff’s law enforcement officers or conservators of the peace? Does the THP trooper have authority to halt private parties on the state’s highways? To what extent do police departments have authority in counties where the sheriff rules?

Grenda Harmer, who has studied law while behind bars in Tennessee, surveys the scene in a state whose people’s liberties have been subsumed by commercial government, one that traffics and prospers upon the rights of the people, and drains by courts, fees, fines, prisons and punishments their livelihood and prospects. Mr. Harmer eyes Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-7-103 and the driver license laws — and, in a dissent from my analysis, concludes we’re done for. — DJT

TENNESSEE HIGHWAYS

T.C.A. § 4-7-104 & § 4-7-105 provides only Tennessee Highway Patrol has authority to make arrests on Tennessee highways. THP has limited authority to make arrests on Tennessee Highways.

By Grenda Harmer

Black’s Law Dictionary broadly defines highway as “any main route on and on water, or in the air.” Highways are basically main roads that connects “towns or cities” to each other. 

§ 4-7-104 allows THP to patrol state highways enforce all department of transportation laws, rules, and regulations and assist the department of revenue and county clerks in collecting all taxes and state revenue and enforcing laws relating to the same. (See attached § 4-7-104).

§ 4-7-105 limits THP jurisdiction & authority to “operators of motor vehicles for hire” (See attached § 4-7-105). This means any person who is not engaged in commerce of any sort and are merely traveling on the Tennessee highways, THP has no authority to stop them for any traffic violation. Furthermore, according to these statutes enclosed a copy of THP is unable to stop any person transporting illegal contraband. THP has limited jurisdiction & authority on the state’s highways. [It is commercial motor vehicle enforcement. — Ed.]

I don’t think I’ve missed anything, but I’ve not seen no statutes that allow THP to make arrests for traffic violations that don’t involve “for hire” motor vehicles. 

CHATTANOOGA CITY STREETS

Before I begin let me state that according to City of Elizabethton v Carter County, 321 S.W.2d 822 (Tenn. 1968) that all municipal governments are instrumentalities of the state for purposes of local government and the legislature has absolute control within constitutional limits of the creation, modification an abolition of municipal governments.” With that said, allow me to begin with T.C.A. § 40-7-103 regarding arrests by an “officer.”

A police officer is defined by Black’s Law Dictionary as anyone who is legally “responsible for preserving public order, promoting public safety, and preventing and detecting crime.” A “peace officer” is also defined, though more broadly, as a sheriff or police officer.

These definitions are very important to understand because it will help you see what I’m trying to relate regarding § 40-7-103, grounds for arrest by officer without a warrant. You have to read all the statutes together as one and you must use the definitions that the law states are the correct definition. So Black’s Law Dictionary is basically what the law states in the United States. Every state will be basically the same when defining legal terms. That is why I’m letting you know to understand the definitions as well.

38-3-102. Duties of sheriff.

(a) The sheriff is the principal conservator of the peace in the sheriff’s county. It is the sheriff’s duty to suppress all affrays, riots, routs, unlawful assemblies, insurrections, or other breaches of the peace, to do which the sheriff may summon to such sheriff’s aid as many of the inhabitants of the county as such sheriff thinks proper.

(b) It shall be the duty of the sheriffs, in their respective counties, by themselves or deputies, to patrol the roads of the county, to ferret out crimes, to secure evidence of crimes, and to apprehend and arrest criminals.

Recently I sent you a copy of a statute that basically states the definition of street does not change. It basically means any roads within city limits. Black’s Law Dictionary defines street basically as have just stated. 

The first thing that you notice is § 40-7-103 begins by stating “an officer.” This is where the definition comes in, regarding “officer.” While officer does include sheriff in a broad sense it does not mean that necessarily in regards to § 4-7-103. Under T.C.A. § 38-3-102 the sheriff and his deputies are limited in their duties. the sheriff and his deputies are“to patrol the roads of the county.” That is where the sheriff’s jurisdiction lies, out in the county. 

Within the city limits of Chattanooga the local police force are the ones with the duty to keep the peace within the city limits as a general rule. Again, there might be special circumstances that could change the dynamics of the situation of each case. § 40-7-103 states that a police officer may arrest a person without a warrant for the following circumstances, which is basically very broad. 

Arrest by officer without warrant law

However even though it is pretty broad it still provides some limitations. The first thing is “public offense” or “breach of the peace” a person can be arrested without a warrant. A public offense defined by Black’s Law Dictionary is for an “act or omission forbidden by law.” Again, it is very broad. When I looked up “breach of the peace,” Black’s Law Dictionary defines it as, basically, criminal offenses that create a public disturbance or disorderly conduct. Nevertheless, even though it is very broad, it must be against the law. The kicker though is it must be done “in the officer’s presence.”


Next a warrantless arrest may be made if the officer believes that the person arrested has committed a felony even though it is not done in the officer ‘s presence. To make a warrantless arrest in this situation the officer must have probable cause or reasonable suspicion. That could entail a BOLO (Be On The Lookout) that has been issued. The officer may rely on the BOLO.

The fourth thing is the officer may make a warrantless arrest on “reasonable cause,” basically reasonable suspicion. The fifth thing is if the person is about to commit suicide. The sixth reason is if there is a traffic accident and there is an “personal injury” or property damage is above $1,000. If there is no personal injury or the property damage does not exceed $1,000, then the officer may not arrest someone without a warrant unless there is “probable cause” to believe the driver violated § 55-10-401, driving under the influence prohibited.

The seventh reason is pursuant to § 36-3-619, without a warrant (Officer response — Primary aggressor — Factors — Reports — Notice to victim of legal rights — Ex parte protection order.) . The eighth reason an officer may make a warrantless arrest is if the driver violated § 55-10-401, using an auto or driving a car while intoxicated if there is a crash. The ninth reason an officer may make a warrantless arrest is if the person violated § 39-17-315, stalking.

The tenth reason an officer may make a warrantless arrest is if the driver hit another car and left the scene under § 55-10-401. The eleventh reason is if there is a violation of § 55-10-119. 

Under section (b) the officer must have “probable cause” before a warrantless arrest can be made. And the person must have violated one or more conditions of $40-11-150.

An officer may arrest under section (b) the officer must have “probable cause” before a warrantless arrest can be made. And the person must have violated one or more conditions of § 40-11-150. ***

§ 4-7-104. Police officer may not stop a vehicle just to check their license. Only THP has the sole jurisdiction and authority to stop and examine the driver license of a driver under § 4-7-103(c).

[We have covered this law in detail, most recently in our efforts to convince CALEA to decertify Chattanooga police department for any of at least three persistent violations of law and policy. Ed.]

Driving, driver

Under § 55-50-102 (19) and (20), defines “driver” and “driver license.” A driver is basically someone who operates a motor vehicle and “driver license” is basically what the state issues that authorizes someone to operate a motor vehicle. 

With that said § 55-50-301 clearly states, under (a) (1) no person may operate a motor vehicle on any state highway with certain exceptions. A person may also be arrested, with or without a warrant if that person does not have a valid driver’s license, which is stated in § 55-10-119. 

I’m sending you these statutes and definitions because I don’t want you to take my word for it. The state has the upper hand by all the statutes that it has implemented in order to give the police the authority to arrest without a warrant. A license is required. 

When I started out, I thought I might be able to find a loophole for you. But instead I found that if a person does not have a license they are subject to arrest. One way a person might get around it is to drive a tractor everywhere. Sorry, I could not give you any good news in this regard.

The David Tulis show is 1 p.m. weekdays, live and lococentric.

Sue cop as oppressor, defend self in traffic court: Transportation Administrative Notice

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