After work last night I encountered an EnDui checkpoint. It is a program I support, and the experience was positive for me, with a twist.
Since Abby and I now both have an Oklahoma Handgun License, we are statutorily required to present that license along with our driver license if we are armed, which I was. Some YouTubers with concealed carry licenses have posted videos talking about difficulties they have encountered in this situation, but that was not the case for me last night, my first such occasion.
I greeted the trooper, who I did not recognize (meaning he was not assigned to our county; probably part of a DUI task force), who asked me, “May I see your license and proof of insurance?”
“Before I do, I need to tell you I have a handgun license, which I am going to show you. My weapon is in the center console, but I’m just going to leave it there.”
I said it with some authority, making eye contact and moving calmly and non-threateningly. He looked at my handgun license, then watched as I opened the center console and, without touching my weapon, getting my insurance certificate, which he checked. He then verified my tag, and politely thanked me.
I felt this experience went exactly as it should have: I am a responsible citizen exercising my right to travel, meeting the requirements for that, and exercising my right to lawfully carry a firearm. I treated the police with respect, which they returned.
But, what if everything was the same except my skin color? What if, instead of a casually but well-dressed white man in his mid 50s I had been a teenaged black man wearing a hoodie? It’s temping to imagine police would have treated me differently, but here is the real truth: I was prepared to comply with any lawful request made of me: put my hands on the steering wheel, step out of the vehicle, let the officer secure my weapon, all of which are consistent with the law.
[stextbox id=”grey” caption=”Our Rights as Citizens”]
With that said, I will never consent to allow police to search my vehicle without a warrant, and you shouldn’t either. Not only is it your right not to allow a search, giving consent is allowing police to circumvent good, lawful police procedure.
Some police in some jurisdictions (though not in my area, where the police are civil) might try to bully you into it with phrases like, “you need to let us look in your car before we can let you go,” or “If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to lose.” But know your rights. Say no. Tell them to get a warrant. If they threaten to detain you, ask them if you are under arrest. If they say no but still prevent you from leaving, respectfully tell them you believe you are being illegally detained, which you are.
As I left the checkpoint, I thanked the officer for what he was doing. According to the web site, last night that checkpoint made six DUI arrests, three other alcohol arrests, four felony arrests, and wrote 146 citations or warnings. They are keeping drunk drivers off the roads, drivers who could have killed you or me.
By the way, if you have ever driven drunk, even once, you are probably an alcoholic.