PORT RICHEY — Attila Szoradi didn't have a Florida driver's license and wasn't interested in getting one.
"I do not wish to enter into a contract with the state of Florida at this time," Szoradi told the Pasco sheriff's deputy who pulled him over on U.S. 19.
Deputy Sean Sweeney initiated the traffic stop about 11:30 p.m. Oct. 19 after noticing the blue BMW sedan driving with its high-beams on. He tried to run the car's license plate though a database, then realized it was counterfeit.
So he stopped Szoradi, 46, and asked for his license and registration.
Szoradi provided a laminated card that said "United States Constitutional Right to Travel," as well as a white card with the sedan's VIN number, issued by the "Kingdom of Heaven," according to a Pasco County Sheriff's Office report.
"It's a church plate," Szoradi explained.
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There is a "right to travel" movement in America that suggests drivers don't need licenses. Supporters of this argument cite passages from various court cases saying people are free to travel where they please, without limits or interference by the government, as long as they are not engaged in commerce.
Accepting a government-issued license, they argue, means surrendering a right.
"The license, being a legal contract under which the state is empowered with policing powers, is only valid when the licensee takes on the burdens of the contract and bargains away his or her rights knowingly, intentionally, and voluntarily," reads one version of this argument posted by an anonymous author on lawfulpath.com. "Few know that the driver's license is a contract without which the police are powerless to regulate the people's actions or activities."
But that's a fringe view held by anti-government extremists, according to the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks the efforts of such groups. The courts have issued numerous rulings that explicitly uphold the government's right to regulate activity on the roadways — including requiring drivers to have licenses and registrations for their cars.
"This is but an exercise of the police power uniformly recognized as belonging to the states and essential to the preservation of the health, safety, and comfort of their citizens," the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Hendrick v. Maryland.
The ruling is from 1915.
• • •
Deputy Sweeney decided to place Szoradi under arrest on charges of possessing a fictitious license and a counterfeit license plate. He asked the driver several times to exit the car.
"I do not wish to consent to this arrest at this time," Szoradi replied.
So Sweeney used "joint manipulation" of Szoradi's left wrist to pull his hand from the steering wheel, get him out of the car and place him in handcuffs, the report said.
Szoradi's wallet contained an expired driver's license from California. His latest address is listed in Seminole. But he's not a U.S. citizen, and he may not be here legally.
Jail records and his Facebook page indicate he is from Austria. Once he was booked at the Land O'Lakes Jail, authorities from U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement filed the paperwork to take him into custody.
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He'll have to get his next license somewhere else.