One man's argument over the basic right to travel landed him in jail for 14 days this past week. The Glasgow Courier previously reported about Terry Lee Brauner, or as he prefers to be known as Terry-Lee, and his argument against city, county and state officials on his position that the government has no right to require a driver's license.
Brauner went to court on Wednesday, Jan. 29, for driving without a license and operating a vehicle without liability insurance. He was sent to jail for 14 days and fined more than $800. Judge Perry Miller, of Chinook, presided over the case and found him guilty on charges.
Brauner was stopped on Sept. 3 at 2:47 p.m. by the undersheriff and a deputy. He had made it known to county officials that he had declined to get a driver's license due to the box that must be checked yes – "Are you a U.S. citizen?" He went in to register to vote and found it required an identification card; he informed the county that he carried his own form of identification but argued he shouldn't be required to obtain a driver's license.
County officials made Valley County Sheriff Glen Meier aware of the situation and Brauner was pulled over that day and cited for driving without a valid driver's license, and operating a vehicle without liability insurance.
Undersheriff Vern Buerkle said he was pulled over on Highway 2 and 5th Avenue North shortly after he left the courthouse. Buerkle said that Brauner explained that he was not legally required to obtain liability insurance. He had previously faced issues in the state of Washington and had been fined $100 on two occasions.
Meier argues that all citizens wanting to operate a vehicle need to obtain a license for safety reasons. Ensuring that people know the laws of the roadway is one way to help keep residents safe when traveling.
"We need to know you have the capability to operate a vehicle safely, and that you know the law of the road," Meier said. "It's a privilege that can be suspended."
Meier said that Brauner refused to participate in the non-jury trial and that he tried to refuse being fingerprinted and photographed.
Valley County Attorney Nick Murnion said that a case that went through the Montana Supreme Court in 1998 set a precedent for those arguing their freedom of travel.
The case stated that a driver's license is for safety and enhances the right to travel. The license can be revoked for non-compliance but it doesn't constrain an individual from using buses, trains or planes, or from being a passenger in someone else's vehicle. Murnion also said that any constitutional arguments had to be filed by the appropriate time line, and that didn't happen in this case.
Brauner spoke to The Courier while in jail and said he plans to fight the system. He said that he has to exhaust the administrative process in order to follow with a federal suit over the charges, claiming that he has the right to locomotion. He has more than one argument over obtaining the state driver's license.
His explanation is long and fairly complicated but touches on the powers of federal government versus state government along with being forced to acknowledge federal citizenship when he doesn't agree to the system. He also argues that his legal and lawful names are not the same, and he argues that his lawful name of Terry-Lee should be recognized. This was an argument he started in 2003 in the state of Washington.
"I've never been pulled over for breaking the law," Brauner said. "I've never had a criminal background."