Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

This blog is devoted to a variety of topics including politics, current events, legal issues, and we even take the time to have some occasional fun. After all, blogging is about having a little fun, right?

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

First Amendment doesn't apply here, bub

Another nutty story I ran across yesterday is about a Ron Paul supporter whose infatuation with his candidate of choice is going to cost him, and as the police note, it's his mouth that earned him these citations in addition to his clear disregard for the law:

An 18-year-old Republican's enthusiasm for presidential hopeful Ron Paul could cost him more than $550.

Cody Hauer has been cited four times in one week for displaying a 13-inch-by-40-inch "Ron Paul Revolution" decal in the rear window of his car. The problem is that such decals are illegal if they obstruct the driver's view.

"I support Ron Paul, the city police department doesn't," he said. "They gave me a DWR — driving while Republican."

Owatonna Police Chief Shaun LaDue said his officers followed the law.

"The political aspect of this doesn't enter into the equation at all," LaDue said. "It's very clear in state statute that you cannot have anything that obstructs the driver's vision."

Besides being in violation of the law, Hauer showed disrespect toward the officer during each traffic stop, LaDue said. "He talks himself into a citation each time," LaDue said.

Hauer said he'll argue in court that the law violates his First Amendment right to free speech.

"To be honest, I'm probably not going to win, but I'm going to go down fighting," he said.

You have to admire the creativity of the argument. Unfortunately, that doesn't fly. (Here is the Minnesota law in question.) The law specifically states that:

A person shall not drive or operate any motor vehicle with:

(3) any sign, poster, or other nontransparent material upon the front windshield, sidewings, or side or rear windows of the vehicle, other than a certificate or other paper required to be so displayed by law or authorized by the state director of the Division of Emergency Management or the commissioner of public safety.

We all have a passion for the candidates we like. We can respect that of Ron Paul supporters. Hell, it was several weeks after the inauguration of President Bush before I removed the "Bush/Cheney '04" bumper sticker from my back window. (You just don't really think about it until you're washing the car on a Saturday afternoon.) But there's a difference between a small bumper sticker that doesn't obscure the view out the rear window and a bloody decal that does.

Furthermore, Mr. LaDue noted that he was disrespectful to the officers in question that cited him. My grandfather (who passed away a few years ago), and my uncle in San Dieg were both police officers. They taught me a valuable lesson that has kept me out of a traffic ticket every time I've been pulled over, regardless of the reason why. (I've been pulled over for speeding, having a tailight out, illegal turns, etc.)

ALWAYS be polite to the officer stopping you. Don't be confrontational. Always reply "yes sir/yes ma'am; no sir/no ma'am." If you act as though you knwo what you did was wrong, nine times out of ten, you'll be let off with a warning. Now this doesn't always work. Hugh Hewitt recently recounted an incident where the "fetching Mrs. Hewitt" was pulled over for speeding. While he did not say how fast she was going, he did admit that it was "excessive." Even if you're polite to the officer, excessive speed will net you a ticket.

This poor young man is about to see that his devotion to a political candidate doesn't trump the necessity of safety ont he roads. Tough lesson to learn, but maybe next time, he'll opt for the bumper sticker.

Publius II


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