speeding ticket

Flipping Off Police Doesn’t Warrant Traffic Stop

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has considered the lofty issue of whether flipping off the police is enough to effectuate a traffic stop. According to the 2nd circuit, it is not.

Take the case of John Swartz and his wife who were driving in upstate New York in 2006. Swartz was alerted to a police officer in the area by his radar detector.

While some motorists might appreciate the job that police officers perform, Swartz was obviously not one of them. Instead, the man waved his middle finger as if flipping the bird at the parked cop as he and his wife drove by.

Officer Richard Insogna, who was the recipient of the flipped, apparently did not take kindly to the gesture. The officer tailed the couple to their destination and conducted a traffic stop. The officer looked at the license and registration of Mrs. Swartz as she was driving and then let the couple go.

For whatever reason, John Swartz then asked to speak man to man with Insogna and when three other officers intervened, Swartz walked away. On his way back to the car, Swartz said he felt like an ass. Perhaps the officers misheard the comments of Swartz so they arrested him for disorderly conduct.

But the question is: what business did the police have in stopping the Swartzes in the first place?

Considered a seizure for the purpose of the Fourth Amendment, making a traffic stop requires reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. But is flipping the bird enough to constitute criminal activity?

The officers gave a lame argument that the gesture may have been a sign that Swartz needed help or was about to beat his wife. Surprisingly, the court did not fall for that and just recognized the middle finger for what it is — an insult.

And whether the traffic stop was considered legal, the court did not accept disorderly conduct as a reason for an arrest. While New York’s disorderly conduct statute is very broad, and covers the use of obscene language in public, but it also allows one to express his own opinion, especially when that opinion is self-deprecatory.

If you have received a traffic ticket, please contact an experienced speeding ticket lawyers. Protect your right to drive legally.

Source: Find Law Com

Posted in PA | Tags: , , , ,
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