America’s Most Influential Sovereign Citizen Was Arrested, and He’s Already Grifting Off It

David Straight makes hundreds of thousands of dollars convincing people they can't be arrested if they follow his rules. Then he got arrested.
Left: Sovereign citizen guru David Straight Right: His wife, Bonnie Allen (Photos via Johnson County Sheriff’s Office)

A far-right grifter who makes hundreds of thousands of dollars from selling fake license plates and hosting seminars that specifically tell people they won’t be arrested if they follow his rules, was, himself, arrested and jailed for not displaying a real license plate. 

David Straight was arrested Monday in Texas for driving without a license and not properly displaying license plates, despite his position as one of America’s most influential promoters of the baseless sovereign citizen ideology, which claims that people can declare themselves independent and not subject to a country’s laws. 


Straight’s arrest is raising serious questions within his community after he previously claimed that those who followed his beliefs would be placed on a “do not detain” list. But within hours, he was already leveraging his arrest to take even more money from his army of followers.

Straight was arrested in Johnson County, Texas, on Monday afternoon and spent Monday night in jail before being freed Tuesday morning after paying a $1,200 bond.

The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office didn’t respond to VICE News’ request for comment, but online records show that Straight was charged with operating a vehicle without license plates, operating a vehicle with expired registration, operating a vehicle without insurance, and failing to display a driver’s license.

Driving without the proper documents has become a hallmark of sovereign citizens, and some encounters with police have even turned deadly.

Straight has spent years promoting his brand of the sovereign citizen ideology, called the “American State National,”at $150-a-seat seminars he holds across the country. The core belief of this movement is that citizens can circumvent U.S. law by using archaic phrases in pseudo-legal court filings, allowing them to avoid paying taxes, claim land that doesn’t belong to them, and drive without a license. 


Straight even sells fake license plates for a nonexistent “Republic of Texas.” The grift has led to in-fighting within the sovereign citizen community, the Daily Beast reported this week.

And at one seminar in 2021 attended by VICE News, Straight specifically told attendees that if they were pulled over, they would not have to show their driver’s licence. He has even claimed that supporters who follow his advice would be placed on a “do not detain” list so they would never have to go to jail.

“Isn't he on a do not detain list?” one member of Straight’s hugely popular Telegram channel asked on Tuesday. “How are they able to arrest him?  I'm just curious how he gets arrested.”

Another asked: “How could they arrest him? According to him he's untouchable! A King! So much for the ‘Do not arrest’ and ‘Do not detain’ they stamp on their own passports,” referring to the bogus documents Straight issues to his followers.

But others, defending Straight, said the police would not have known who Straight was because he didn’t have a license and that now they “will have to pay the price.”

Straight’s wife Bonnie Allen, was also arrested on Monday, according to online jail records. 


The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office wrote on its Facebook page that Allen was “arrested at the Guinn Justice Center for an outstanding warrant. [She] resisted arrest and assaulted a couple of deputies.”  Allen was also booked on the original charge which relates to bringing a firearm into a courthouse in 2015. Allen remains in custody on Wednesday morning. 

The arrest of Straight and his wife sent shockwaves through the sovereign citizen community. and almost immediately his more ardent followers sought to frame the arrests as a way for the pair to earn even more money from their followers.

One of Straight’s closest allies, Bobby Lawrence, who is another high-profile sovereign citizen promoter, posted a Telegram message with Straight’s smiling mugshot climbing that he was “gonna get paid a yhuge [cheque] for this.”

“Johnson County Texas don't know it yet, they just bought [Straight] two new trucks and a nice building to park them in,” he added.

Lawrence urged his followers to harass the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office with phone calls and emails.

Lawrence even flew to the Texas jail where Straight was being held and was there to greet him when he was released just before 11 a.m. on Tuesday morning. He posted a video of Straight walking to his car outside the jail.

Late last month, Straight held one of his sovereign citizen seminars in Johnson County, and based on photos which he shared to his Facebook account, over 100 people  attended for  $150 each. Straight also sells access to his seminars via Zoom which also costs $150.

As well as raking in cash through his seminars, Straight also makes bank from products he sells on his website, which include books and Straight has also mixed QAnon conspiracies with sovereign citizen ideology to claim that he can help parents get their children back from child protective services, whom he labels as “traffickers.”

“Satanic rituals are performed in this country using children,” Straight told VICE News in 2021. “We have the forensic evidence to back it up. We know where the underground tunnels are. We’ve rescued children and women who are breeders out from under those tunnels.”

Straight did not respond to VICE News’ request for comment about his arrest.