The following is a transcript of three audio recordings between a commercial truck driver in Texas and two Texas Department of Public Safety employees; one a female DOT weigh station inspector and the other a yet unnamed white male Texas State Trooper. The incident began when the DOT inspector made the driver, who was off duty and sleeping, wake up and leave the sleeper berth in order to present his commercial drivers license. This unwarranted search caused the driver to violate Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, by disrupting his mandatory eight hours sleeper time. According to state and federal law, a driver can not work unless he takes the allotted mandatory uninterupted ten hour break betwen shifts, a minimum of eight of it in the sleeper. The driver also contends that the demand for ID was illegal and unconstitutional, since he was off duty and sleeping when the his co-driver was stopped at the commercial truck weigh station off I-35 in Devine, Texas. The driver has filed official written complaints against both officers with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the Texas Department of Public Safety, as well as a criminal complaint issued Friday with the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, Criminal Section.
Details regarding the November incident and excerpts from the official complaint can be found here.
The U.S. Dept. of Justice website explains, “The Criminal Section prosecutes cases involving the violent interference with liberties and rights defined in the Constitution or federal law. The rights of both citizens and non-citizens are protected. In general, it is the use of force, threats, or intimidation that characterize a federal criminal violation of an individual’s civil rights. Our cases often involve incidents that are invariably of intense public interest….
“The types of acts that may involve violations of federal criminal civil rights laws are:… OFFICIAL MISCONDUCT (18 U.S.C. § 241, 18 U.S.C. § 242) — Intentional acts by law enforcement officials who misuse their positions to unlawfully deprive individuals of constitutional rights, such as the right to be free from unwarranted assaults, illegal arrests and searches, and theft of property.”
The Department also notes “Color of law” is a legal term used in official misconduct cases. It means that the law enforcement officer acted while abusing the authority given to him or her by reason of his or her employment as a public official.”
Audio of the incident is in three short clips. First: Off Duty Driver refuses to show ID to Texas DOT inspector
The second is here: Texas State Trooper threatens arrest of driver for not showing ID . Part 3, the conclusion, is here: Civil Rights claim filed against Texas Trooper- Do not wake up sleeping trucker . Total length of all three clips combined is less than 5 minutes.
The first interaction occurred November 10th after both drivers were forced to leave the truck and walk to a small DOT office to wait for the inspector at the weigh station. The off duty driver waited a few minutes in the office but returned to his truck to go back to sleep, when he encountered the female DOT inspector en route.
Martin: Hi maam
DOT inspector: Is your CDL in there?
Martin: No, I didn’t know what you wanted me to wake up for.
DOT inspector: I just wanted your CDL.
Martin: Oh okay. is that..
DOT inspector: Do you have it with you?
Martin: Of course I do, but I have a question first. I’m an American. You know, right?
DOT inspector: Uh huh
Martin: This is Texas, right?
DOT inspector: Yes.
Martin: Why did you wake me up when I’m off duty, I’m in the sleeper?
DOT inspector: I don’t know why he woke you up, I just asked him to get your drivers license.
Martin: He doesn’t have my drivers license, I have it in my pocket.
DOT inspector: Okay.
Martin: So he has to, by definition, wake me up to get it.
DOT inspector: Okay.
Martin: I’m asking why –
DOT inspector: Because I asked him to get it from you.
Martin: Is that a legal demand or a request?
DOT inspector: It is a request.
Martin: I’m not driving, so that’s..
DOT inspector: Correct.
Martin: If it’s a request, I’m refusing.
DOT inspector: Okay. That’s fine.
After returning to his truck to enter the sleeper berth and forced to completely re-start his federally mandatory ten hour off duty time, the driver was approached by a white male Texas State Trooper, who ran up to the vehicle and jumped up on the running board, demanding to see the driver’s CDL. The driver, a Constitutionalist libertarian from California who supported Congressman Ron Paul for president in the 2008 election, recorded his interactions with both officers, for his own protection as well as the fact that he was in public where there is no expectation of privacy.
The driver initially pressed the video recording feature of his cell phone soon after the Texas Trooper arrived at the truck’s window. The video can be seen below. Since the video recording capability only lasts twenty seconds, the driver then pressed the audio recording button, which recorded the remainder of the conversation with the trooper. Before he was able to press the video record button, he informed the the man at his window that he had already settled the matter with the female DOT inspector, and added “I don’t even know who you are”, to which the trooper replied “I have the badge and the gun”.
The driver, both in his Texas complaint as well as federal civil rights claim, insisted that all video and audio recording evidence recorded by the officers and DOT not be erased, destroyed, lost or discarded, as it will be later subpeanad as evidence. Knowing that officers will often falsely arrest people at roadside stops who question the legality of their tactics, the driver asked questions of the Trooper yet clarified that he would obey orders, meaning he was not ‘resisting arrest’ or ‘impeding an officer’.
Driver: “Okay sir, your partner just told me that it’s a request, not a demand. She said..
Trooper: Let me stop you right there.
Driver: Yes sir. I’m an American, I’m a Constitutionalist libertarian, now I suggest.. I’m gonna obey orders.. pardon me?
Trooper: If you fail to ID, then you can go the other route.
Driver: What’s that?
Trooper: When a peace officer requests your ID, and you’re in a commercial-
Texas State Trooper: So I mean, I don’t know how far you want to take it- But in Texas, if you fail to ID, that’s a jailable offense.
Driver: Right. that’s why I asked her specifically- first of all she wasn’t a police officer, so that doesn’t even apply- you’re different positions right?
Trooper: Right. She’s an inspector.
Trooper: But, when the federal motor carrier stuff- when you’re in the vehicle, and you’re being inspected, and- your log book is off limits, I mean, if you’re not driving, unless you’re sitting up here.
Trooper: If you’re in the sleeper berth, then sure, we don’t have any right to ask for your logbook, but we damn sure can ID you.
Driver: You have a right to wake up the person in the sleeper?
Trooper: Yes we do.
Driver: Oh. Okay. Does she or do you?
Trooper: She does too.
Driver: Oh okay.
Trooper: She can enforce the federal motor carrier law but as far as state law goes, you know that’s part of the penal code. I don’t know what ya’ll call it in California
Driver: Vehicle code.
Trooper: Well, vehicle code, is probably for traffic. We’re talking about criminal law.
Driver: Oh okay.
Trooper: I don’t know what it is in California but in Texas, when we have a vehicle stop, we ID everybody in the vehicle. Truck drivers, everybody.
Trooper: Because I mean we get a lot of people that are wanted. Uh, we get runaways, and- of course you’re not a runaway. But I mean we get juveniles and stuff like that that are runaways. So it’s a common practice for us to ID everybody in the vehicle. That cuts out ‘well why’d you ID me and, ya know, uh the last two vehicles you didn’t ID everybody’. We ID everybody. We stop you, everybody’s getting out.
Trooper: Does that make sense?
Driver: Yeah it makes sense. So this is a demand, not a request?
Trooper: I’m telling you.
Driver: Alright. That’s different than what she says. So you’re the peace officer; so the fed tells the local cop to demand my ID, and that’s how it works? Because she didn’t demand it though. I gave it to you though.
Trooper: We’re out here to enforce the federal law and also the state law. Federal has vehicle inspectors. Now Texas has a policy when inspectors are working then we will have a trooper out here-
Driver: To back them up.
Trooper: To work the site as well. …civilian aspect…
Driver: Just like CPS when they take the kids, the cop’s there with the gun to back up the little, the little bureauocrat.
Trooper: Hang on.
Trooper: You’re not wanted or anything, are you?
Driver: Not that I know of.
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Martin Hill is a Catholic paleoconservative and civil rights advocate. His work has been featured on LewRockwell.com, WhatReallyHappened, Infowars, PrisonPlanet, Rense, National Motorists Association, and many others. You can view a full archive of his Examiner articles here.