A family man with a nursing mom in the front seat next to him endured a traffic stop Monday night and escaped jailing or citation while asserting the right to travel in his private car absent state permission via a driver license.
Military veteran Jason Caissie, 44, of Stantonville, Tenn., hurtled through the darkness in a car late Monday carrying home his wife Michelle, with a 7-month-old at her breast, and two children in the back seat.
By David Tulis / 92.7 NoogaRadio
A vigilant officer of McNary County’s sheriff’s department caught sight of a grave danger caused by the car and boldly acted. Empowered by probable cause in a criminal matter, chased Mr. Caissie through the night and pulled over Mr. Caissie’s conveyance. The lightbulb over the car tag was out, making it harder for him to read the plate.
“He ask me if I had a driver license and I told him I did not,” Mr. Caissie says.
“I told him I was not engaged in business. Again, I have my wife and three children with me. It was a little after midnight. I told him I took over the wheel from my wife because she was tired and he went back to the back [to his cruiser] and he — I gave him some identification, and I gave my wife’s identification, and he came back up and he said, ‘I’m not going to give you a ticket.’ He did ask me why my license has been expired since 2013, and I told him I’m testing a legal issue. He said, ‘Are you one of those sovereign citizens?’ And I said, ‘No.’ And he’s like, ‘Well, OK.’ He gave me a little lecture that I need to have a driver license, and he let me go. And my wife took over the wheel.”
Mrs. Caissie is a breastfeeding consultant and had secured the couple’s 5- and 7-year-old in car seats behind them. After the officer complained about her being in the front seat with an unrestrained infant, she said she had a right to breastfeed while the car in motion. The deputy said she did not. Mrs. Caissie insisted it is allowed. “I haven’t yet confirmed whether she’s correct on that,” Mr. Caissie notes.
The user of Tennessee’s public roads says a distinction exists between travel and transportation. He is pursuing a criminal case against him in Mississippi asserting that his exercise of this right is lawful and that a judge’s conviction is wrong. There are several cases that say the right to travel is a right, and that driver licenses are required only if one is involved in using the road for business and commerce.
The criminal defendant has a varied background. He was an MP for 6 years, a contractor, a bomb handler in Bagdad and a physics teacher.
The encounter says little about the state of law enforcement in Tennessee, which generally would have accused Mr. Caissie of failure to exhibit, which applies to licensees only but is used against immigrants, the poor, minorities and others whose papers are not in order — or who don’t have papers. Mitigating factors that prompted the deputy to not cite or arrest Mr. Caissie were the late hour, the presence of a “licensed driver” in the car, the care of small children and Mr. Caissie’s ID as ex-military.