Court: Police can’t stop you for vulgar hand gestures

According to a recent court ruling, the Constitution protects your right to flip off a police officer, should you choose to do so. It’s essentially free speech, and they can’t detain you or issue you a ticket just because they do not appreciate it.

The reason this issue ended up in court is that a woman was allegedly speeding when a police officer pulled her over. Rather than giving her a speeding ticket, he gave her a non-moving violation.

While many people may have been pleased just to get a smaller ticket, the woman was still angry that he had stopped her at all. She flipped him off as she drove away, after the stop was done.

Outraged, the officer pulled her over again. He got rid of the non-moving violation and gave her the speeding ticket instead.

The key to this entire thing is that he had to stop her again. She argued that he had no right to do so because she had not broken the law at that point. The court agreed, saying that it was fine that he pulled her over once for speeding. However, he then violated her rights by stopping her again to change the ticket.

Experts say that, while this case is important, one potential underlying issue is that it shows how people often have to take drastic steps and go through a lengthy court process just to make sure that police do not violate their rights. A lot of people won’t do that. Consequently, things happen that never get reported.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, be sure you know about all of your legal rights.

What if you’re not sure a police officer is really an officer?

A man pulls up beside you on the highway and tells you to pull over, motioning out the window. You have no idea what happened, but you think maybe he needs help, so you pull over. Then he comes up to you, wearing normal street clothes. He tells you that he is a police officer, that you are under arrest and that you need to come with him.

Now what? Do you just go get in this stranger’s car and hope for the best? Or do you lock your door and drive away? If this is someone impersonating an officer in order to kidnap you, for instance, you may need to flee just to protect yourself. If it is a police officer, though, they could then claim you were evading the law.

The problem here is that you honestly may not know. You’re not trying to break the law. You just do not understand what’s happening, and you know that whatever choice you make could have a massive impact on the rest of your life.

Evading a police officer is a serious charge, but keep in mind that the officer needs to have:

  • Proper markings on their vehicle
  • Special vehicle lighting that makes it clear it is a police car
  • A siren on the car, in many cases
  • A police uniform that is easily identifiable

In other words, it needs to be obvious that you really are dealing with the police for you to get convicted of fleeing from an officer. If you didn’t know that’s what you were doing, you may be able to fight the charges. If you have any questions about your rights and options, our helpful website can answer them today.