The 4th of July certainly gives Americans something to celebrate. It is that day where we celebrate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and the ultimate birth of our great country. The freedoms and rights that were born out of our nations rise to independence were a bold experiment, the success of which has completely altered how governments interact with their citizenry worldwide. Our nation is founded on the concept that the government is equally bound by the rule of law and that its citizens have particular rights that the government cannot and will not be permitted to infringe upon. These core principles were revolutionary, innovative and radical in their time but have proven themselves through the emergence and maintenance of our country as a world leader.
Our success as a nation and the fundamental rights and concepts of government that have made it a success are certainly worthy of celebration. To quote Founding Father, John Adams: "The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. it ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more."
With every form of celebration comes efforts by the government to ensure the safety and well-being of its citizenry. In recent years this has meant a greater police presence and a significant increase in enforcement efforts. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has announced targeted efforts on increasing boating regulation enforcement on Iowa's lakes and rivers during the Fourth of July weekend. At the same time the Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau has announced that it will be conducting "high visibility enforcement" and will be "cracking down on traffic violators." Finally, many cities have instituted complete bans on fireworks promising "zero tolerance on illegal fireworks."
The greater police presence and enforcement means every citizen's chances of coming into contact with law enforcement is greatly increased as well. While much of law enforcement's efforts are well-meaning and designed to promote public safety, many of the officers working these programs are doing so on an overtime basis in addition to their normal shifts. Fatigue and the stress of these additional shifts can take a toll on even the best of officers causing them to be shorter on patience and common sense as the night wears on. Impatient and intolerant officers are significantly more likely to be over-aggressive with their enforcement efforts which can result in the infringement of individual liberties.
Because of concerns that have arisen in the past with overzealous law enforcement, the attorneys at GRL Law have developed the Iowa Driver's Rights Card, to educate the public on their legal rights and assist citizens of this State in invoking and protecting their rights when confronted with law enforcement. This tool is free to the public. Don't leave home without it.
Remember, regardless of the reason you may come into contact with law enforcement, learning and understanding your legal rights is something every American should do. We celebrate the freedoms and rights that millions of our fellow citizens have fought and died for, you should at least take the time to educate yourself on what your rights truly are. As Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin said: "This will be the best security for maintaining our liberties. A nation of well-informed men, who have been taught to know and price the rights which God has given them, cannot be enslaved."
Know your rights; Exercise your rights; Preserve your freedom!