Roadblock hits drivers in Hamilton County on Labor Day weekend

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Izaiah Pemberton was pulled from a wrecked car by a state trooper in Knoxville. Roadblocks are unconstitutional, but are allowed by the supreme court if conditions are met. (Photo local8now.com)

Izaiah Pemberton was pulled from a wrecked car by a state trooper in Knoxville. Roadblocks are unconstitutional, but are allowed by the supreme court if conditions are met. (Photo local8now.com)

The Tennessee department of safety will impose today (Friday) a single roadblock in the Chattanooga area.

It will be a driver license checkpoint at Highway 41 at Raccoon Mountain.

By David Tulis

According to an eight-page listing of sobriety, license and seatbelt roadblocks, only one is scheduled for Hamilton County.

Victor Miller of the Chattanooga police department said the department is conducting no roadblocks over the weekend.

The Raccoon Mountain block for driver licenses does not involve the department.

Soddy-Daisy, Red Bank & Hamilton County

Jeff Gann, acting police chief of Soddy-Daisy, says the town will have “saturation patrols” Friday through Monday, but no roadblocks. The town holds up to 10 roadblocks a year, but has not caught anybody in several years using blockades. 

“Our goal is  that there be no fatalities — that’s a citywide goal.” Higher visibility of patrol cars make things safer for families on their travels.

“There will be no roadblocks in the Soddy-Daisy area provided by the Soddy-Daisy police department,” he said. He has not been notified by the sheriff’s department or the THP about any blocks by those departments.

What’s the rationale for saturation patrols?

“It’s fair to say we all are — maybe guilty is not the best word to use — but I guess we all are seem to let off the gas pedal or we may apply brakes when we look ahead and actually see a marked police car or a Tennessee highway patrol car. So the visibility does play into the role of helping us be safer and better drivers.”

See also Highway patrol insists vague
roadblock PR obeys public notice rule

Red Bank police department administrator Tracey Massey said that chief Tim Christol plans a “concentrated saturation DUI effort this weekend,” but she refused to give information about the roadblocks.

I asked that Chief Christol to call me so I could ask about the particulars of the roadblocks that Mrs. Massey are planned but which he initially declined to identify.

The high court requires publication and advance notice to reduce the prospect of an unwarranted intrusion upon members of public of the free state of Tennessee. Red Bank, if it does not publish the time and location of any roadblock, is not in keeping with this rule to respect constitutionally protected rights.

Regulation of commerce

The state uses public safety as a pretext for its claim that a citizen cannot travel freely on the public right of way without first surrendering the right of travel and obtaining a privilege. That privilege is a driver license, required of anyone operating in commerce in the carrying of people and goods for hire.

Because roads are dangerous, the DOS press release indicates, state police supervision is in order. “As of August 31, 2016, preliminary statistics indicate that 656 people have died on Tennessee roadways. This is an increase of nearly 8.0 percent compared to the 607 fatalities at this same time last year.”

In 2015 14 people were killed in Labor Day crashes, with alcohol figuring in six of them.

“Troopers will be out in force working tirelessly across the state to ensure the summer period comes to a safe close,” said Col. Tracy Trott.

The department’s high-profile police presence includes “saturation patrols, bar and tavern checks and sobriety checkpoints [that] will help remove impaired drivers from Tennessee roadways. Our goal is to remove unsafe motorists from the roadway before they injure or kill [themselves] or an innocent person.”

“The ultimate goal is to save lives on Tennessee roadways,” Commissioner David Purkey says. “We will not tolerate reckless drivers, distracted drivers, or driving under the influence. It is critical that motorists obey the traffic laws.”

Travelers will find no blockades from Hamilton County sheriff’s department.

“We will not be doing roadblocks, but we will be doing our heavy saturation” patrols, said Capt. Charles Lowey.

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