When a Private Citizen Tries to Get People to Obey Speeding Laws, That's a Crime!

Why? Because getting people to obey the law could cost the city some speeding fine bucks! Maddening story out of Frisco, Texas (warning: locals hate it if you call their town "San Francisco"), reported by local TV station KHOU:

Ron Martin argues he has a First Amendment right to warn drivers of a police speed trap in his community after officers arrested him for violating the city’s sign ordinance.

cliff1066 / Foter.com / CC BYcliff1066 / Foter.com / CC BY

Officers handcuffed Martin along Eldorado Parkway near Preston Road last October for holding a sign that alerted drivers to a speed trap nearby.

"I observed a couple cars drive by traveling westbound waving at us,” the police officer wrote in Martin’s arrest report. “Mr. Martin was observed standing in the center median of the six-lane divided roadway ... holding a sign in his right hand up over his shoulders that read 'Police Ahead.'"

When two officers left the enforcement area and drove over to Martin, he pulled out his mobile phone and used it to record his own arrest....

On Wednesday afternoon, he made his first court appearance on the misdemeanor charge.

“Ultimately, we’re trying to do the exact same thing,” Martin insisted. “I just don’t wear a uniform. I’m the same thing as a speed limit sign, just reminding people that there is a limit here.".....

Still, Frisco police cited him for violating the city's sign ordinance, which says the person holding a sign has to be on private property.

Martin was in the median....The issue is bigger than a simple sign along a busy road, Martin insisted — it’s free speech.

I wrote last week of some intriguing old research indicating that cops just sitting by side of the road is nearly as effective as active ticketing in reducing injury accidents--and that cops merely giving warnings might be more effective than ticketing. But again, that puts no money in the city's pocket.

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  • Hugh Akston||

    Well the important thing is that they found something to charge him on.

  • sarcasmic||

    One thing I like about living in Maine is that the cities don't see a dime from speeding tickets. All the money goes to the Secretary of State. So there's no incentive to pull bullshit like this.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    You're in Maine?!?

    No wonder.....

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    no wonder he dreams of skinny chicks?

  • sarcasmic||

    Yep.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Have you seen a Maine girl?

  • Sevo||

    There's more than one?

  • UnCivilServant||

    Cloning, there's one and many

  • Mainer2||

    Do you know why being a homicide detective in Maine is the hardest job in the world ?

  • sarcasmic||

    Nobody's got any teeth and they've all got the same DNA.

  • albo||

    I'm in PA, which is the only state which doesn't allow local police to use radar. Only the state troopers can use it, and they mostly use it on the Turnpike and busy sections of the major interstates.

  • Jordan||

    Dude, that's pretty sweet. Somewhat related, when I crossed into Virginia I was pretty pissed to see the "Radar detectors are illegal" signs. WTF Virginia?

  • sarcasmic||

    In Maine not only are radar detectors legal, but by law they're always right. Seriously. When I went to court to contest a ticket the judge said that the radar detector is right, even when it is wrong, because the law says so.

  • Jordan||

    I think you meant radar guns. I was talking about the devices that detect radar guns.

  • sarcasmic||

    I think you meant radar guns.

    You're right.

  • Jordan||

    Oh, and that's fucked up.

  • anon||

    When I went to court to contest a ticket the judge said that the radar detector is right, even when it is wrong, because the law says so.

    It's pretty good evidence that the cop was making shit up if it didn't go off and he pulls you, so for that, I give that particular judge credit.

  • anon||

    That'll teach me to post before refreshing.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Still, Frisco police cited him for violating the city's sign ordinance, which says the person holding a sign has to be on private property.

    I hope you remember that the next time the union calls for a strike, bub.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Because the law applies equally to the cops?

  • ||

    A union strike in the Dallas area? Not very likely.

    Besides, they would be on private property - their employer's.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Besides, they would be on private property - their employer's.

    Maybe yes, maybe no. But who's going to tell them otherwise?

  • Agammamon||

    Unless they're on the sidewalk out front.

  • creech||

    True story from many years ago. Union was picketing a downtown store in Phila. on the sidewalk. Store is required by law to clean up the sidewalk even though city owns it. Cops wouldn't move the picketers away, but when demo was over, they cited the store for not immediately cleaning up the trash the union demonstrators left all over the sidewalk.

  • Doctor Whom||

    Now how could anyone possibly ...?

    Oh. It's Philadelphia. That's how.

  • robc||

    Tulpa supports the law. Public property belongs to nobody!

  • Auric Demonocles||

    No, no, no. It belongs to everybody except for you!

  • ||

    Yes, I recall Tulpa arguing that plugging your phone charger into an outlet at a city park is theft, because "the public" owns the park, and you're not "the public." Apparently, this is no different from stealing a police car.

  • UnCivilServant||

    I've never seen outlets in public except for use by the public. Especially in parks.

  • sarcasmic||

    "The Public" is "Everyone except you."

  • John C. Randolph||

    Martin's right. First amendment.

    -jcr

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Frisco police cited him for violating the city's sign ordinance, which says the person holding a sign has to be on private property.

    "Listen, buddy, you know why I arrested you, I know why I arrested you, everybody knows why I arrested you. Your so-called right to free speech doesn't include the right to steal money from the city. Now, shape up, before we decide to make things hard for you."

  • ||

    Stop assisting!

  • All-Seeing Monocle||

    Heh

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Font has really outdone him/herself with this comment. Any attempt at humor I may try on the internet today is rendered moot. Therefore, I'm retiring from the internet for today. Happy Friday, Reasonoids! Have a lovely weekend.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Been a while since I've seen a thread-winner.

  • Spoonman.||

    Nice.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I seem to recall a case where flashing the lights to indicate a cop was treated--correctly--as an exercise of free speech.

  • All-Seeing Monocle||

    I assume that was some hypothetical case in law school, because I would expect in real life that they'd ticket you for "improper use of headlights" or similar bullshit.

    My extensive legal review of wikipedia seems to agree that they've figured out eleventy-five different ways to charge someone for this, on a state-by-state basis.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headlight_flashing

  • Pro Libertate||

    I live in Florida. Look at the entry for Florida.

  • Meerkatx||

    I believe there are some local ordinances against that behavior still and some cops will give you a fix it ticket over faulty headlights.

    This of course also gives them a chance to pull you over and possibly see that you're clenching your buttocks a bit too hard and force you to be anally raped by doctors half a dozen times searching for drugs.

  • ||

    Next time, he needs a sign that says, "Police ahead, but don't wave at them!"

  • albo||

    Our local yokels have taken to parking a car in the center turn lane on a busy road near my house, with no lights or flashers on. It's confusing as hell because you don't know what the guy is doing, is he gonna turn left or what. Plus it's dangerous.

    So I bitched to the township, and yesterday the cop at least had his emergency flashers on. I've never been visited by a cop since we moved there in 1993, but I expect I'll get a drive by or two now since I've probably pissed them off.

  • Jordan||

    Ah, Frisco, where the PD drives around in gas guzzling Chevy Tahoes. Given the demographics, they could cut speeding enforcement entirely and still not hurt for cash. But then they couldn't exercise their authoritah all over the citizenry.

  • Doctor Whom||

    But remember: It's all about safety, not revenue.

  • Aresen||

    Wasn't there a similar case a few years back where the circuit court ruled that warning people about speed traps was constitutionally protected free speech?

    The public property bit is patently ridiculous in this case, since a slogan on a t-shirt could be called a 'sign'.

  • Pro Libertate||

    There was a case in Florida that I know about, and I believe our legislature and maybe some others have passed laws recognizing the right to communicate with other people in this manner. Under some weirdly obscure doctrine I'm unclear about.

  • Spoonman.||

    Apparently Pennsylvania is the same way.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Did the police also violate your First Amendment alt-text rights?

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    "the person holding a sign has to be on private property"

    Legally, most streets are on private property. Are the pigs able to look up the dedication titles for every street?

  • R C Dean||

    It varies. Sometimes the street sits on an easement, with the underlying title in a private owner. Sometimes the street sits on deeded land.

    Still, I like the argument that an easement does not convert property from private to public. Room to argue on that one, but if nothing else it should cause some brainlock amongst the pubsecs who forget who the parasite is, and who the host is.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Deeds for streets are somewhat rare. They only exist if the government bought or eminent domained the land. Precedent says if no record of a title for the street can be found, it is automatically an easement. I think purchased or eminent domained streets should revert to adjacent property owenrs, too, if they are ever vacated.

  • Acosmist||

    Cops sitting by the side of the road sure is effective for getting people to SLAM their brakes on and drive 10 mph under the speed limit for a few miles. Because that's safe!

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