Civil Liberties

The Fines Would Have Been Even Higher If It Had Been Copies of the Ron Paul Survival Report

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Reader Andy Guess sends along this alternately heartwarming and blood-curdling tale of free expression, Ron Paulmania, a young rebel named Cody, and traffic citations gone beserk:

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….

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

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.

More here.

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  1. if he’s willing to pay the consequences I say talk back to the cops as much as he wants.

  2. Dumbass. I’m a pretty big moron, but I at least know enough to do the sir-yes-sir routine when a cop bothers me.

  3. Dope. He’s simply wrong. There’s no Free Speech issue here. This is no different than getting pulled over for a broken headlamp.

  4. It does bother me to some small degree that the law is contingent on the state of mind of the enforcer. I realize we are all human, but that is the point of written laws, it helps remove the human factor from life and death decisions. The kid should have either gotten or not gotten (I punch grammar in the FACE) a ticket whether he mouthed off to the cop or not.

    That said, standard libertarian disclaimer, I have talked my way out of tickets.

    And if he can see through the back window for the picture, then the window is not that obstructed, is it.

  5. The problem is that cops will sometimes let you off with a warning for CS stuff like this. But if you piss them off……..they get to writin’ their opinion about it. On a ticket.

  6. He CAN see out that window…

    The mouthing off part seems to be the “thing” these days..no wonder tho’..you see that kind of behavior on the media more than ever. Learned behavior..arguing heads, nasty bashing etc news stations, sport stations, blogs and news papers all of them you can find mouthing off..negative behavior.

  7. The guy’s a hazard on the road if he can’t see out of his back window. Cops are just following the law. He may think himself a patriot but he’s just a moron.

  8. He’s not a moron. PROVE that he can’t see. PROVE that he’s a hazard. I have hundreds of college student trucks and cars around here with stuff painted on every window. I don’t see any tickets being given. Those cops are just being anal retentive.

    Which brings us to the real issue: if he had been contrite and apologetic, they would have let him off. Instead, he was dumb enough to talk about the First Amendment (not the best argument here), and that’s what “talked him into” the ticket.

    As someone already said: law enforcement shouldn’t be dependent upon the cop’s state of mind. That’s why I’m pro-people seeing out of their windows and con-pulling people over because a cop thinks he knows who can see out of a window and who can’t.

  9. stephen, if you read the previous comments, or just look at the picture at the top of the post, you can easily see that the subject of the post can easily see out of his back window, that his view is not obstructed.

  10. Reminds me of Pennsylvania auto inspection stations. Turns out college decals block the back window. Except for Penn State decals.

  11. Larry — That’s hilarious. You would have to be careful what part of the state around here you were in — the University of Oklahoma decal or Oklahoma State University decal might be out of order, depending.

    If we had vehicle inspections, of course.

  12. I don’t see the problem here.

    The guy wanted to advertise for Ron Paul.

    The guy got an article in USA Today advertising for Ron Paul.

    When did Ron Paul himself last get an article in USA Today? The campaign should reimburse the $550 in fines.

  13. The guy’s a hazard on the road if he can’t see out of his back window.

    So all those panel trucks with no back window to see out of are hazards? Gee, there sure are a lot of these hazardous vehicles around. Maybe we should start ticketing them, too. Unless not being able to see out the back window is only a problem when the vehicle is too small?

  14. just look at the picture at the top of the post

    Yeah, there’s about a 1-1/2 inch clear view between the rear brake light and “LOVE”! And the picture is *obviously* not snapped from such an angle as to make it appear greater! This kid is clearly not the jackass he appears to be! Libertarians grasping at straws are surely not barking up the wrong tree here!

  15. Yeah, the cops are probably being a bit strict on interpretation here since it appears the decals don’t actually obstruct the view all that much (I’ve seen similar decals from company cars for local vendors in my own state that don’t appear to inhibit driving safely). But then again if it’s a judgment call on the part of the officer and the kid wants to be an ass about it (thereby indicating a possible intention to flout the law) I guess you can’t blame the officers too much for not giving him the benefit of the doubt. Learn some tact, kid…it’ll get you a hell of a lot further in life.

  16. So all those panel trucks with no back window to see out of are hazards?

    Yes. That’s why they require a special license.

  17. Elevating political symbolism over practical concerns, and picking pointless fights with government officials?

    A Paulite?

    Nah, that can’t be right…

  18. Yes. That’s why they require a special license.

    Not true, in my state (NY) at least.

  19. Elevating political symbolism over practical concerns, and picking pointless fights with government officials?

    A Paulite?

    Nah, that can’t be right…

    A big union pro iraq/drug war cop targeting an identifiable libertarian for harassment.

    Never happen in a million years.

  20. Yes. That’s why they require a special license.

    Uh, only if they are over a certain weight. Most Uhaul trucks don’t require a CDL. There are lots of vehicles that are under the weight limit that have no visibilty through the back window and are perfectly legal.

  21. Meh. Would we care if it were a Clinton sticker?

    Happy Lincolns Birthday.

  22. The mouthing off part seems to be the “thing” these days..no wonder tho’..you see that kind of behavior on the media more than ever. Learned behavior..arguing heads, nasty bashing etc news stations, sport stations, blogs and news papers all of them you can find mouthing off..negative behavior.

    i think it’s a bit more than that. there are so many damn rules that after getting yet another ticket/talking to/stern warning i just want to blow up. “Yes, i know i can’t smoke here, i don’t care i want a damn smoke and i’m outside for christ’s sake! what? a ticket? A TICKET!” just the other day i was given a “talking to” by the fat guy behind the counter about my lungs before he would hand me my cigs, if there wasn’t a security guard 20 feet away i would have punched him in his fat gut.

    so many damn rules. i’m just thankful i don’t live in the u.k….

  23. If a vehicle’s gross vehicle weught rating is under 26,001 lbs, no commercial driver’s license required.

  24. How much money did that sticker array cost the kid?

    And he has to meekly take it down because the letter of the law says he can’t have it there for safety reasons, and some cop(s) decided to call him on it….repeatedly? Never mind that the safety issues are debatable (the view looks serviceable to me), and moot (no accident involved, ’twas the cops who initiated contact), eh?

    At our collectively advanced ages, we all see the utility of bowing down to armed and uniformed authoritarians demanding our unquestioning obedience. but young males? They’ve got wild oats to sow.

    I betcha the newspaper story featuring the local top cop whining (on the record) about how boyo gave the harassing officers grief has increased the kid’s street cred seven fold.

    Here’s hoping he loses the stickers and makes nice with His Honor when he goes for his day in court. Then, I’d say judge’ll knock it down to one ticket. Otherwise, he gets to eat all of them.

  25. Of course, in a Ron Paul utopia, states would be perfectly within their rights — their “states rights” — to pass whatever rules of the road they saw fit. The First Amendment would not be relevant, since it would not apply to the states anyway.

    To Paul and his ilk, so long as Congress (or the Fed) isn’t involved, anything goes.

  26. Kip –

    That’s entirely correct.

    The roads belong to the taxpayers. They can make up any ridiculous rules to use them that they want.

    If I want to take all the rear view mirrors off my car as part of my project to make it into a performance art car, I can’t claim a First Amendment right to continue to drive it on a public street.

  27. On the subject of anal cops:

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,330462,00.html

    “U.S. U.S. HOME
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    HOT TOPICS
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    SEE MORE – Sept. 11 – Crime – Education – Supreme Court
    Send news tip to FOXNews.com

    SUBMIT FOXNEWS.COM HOME > U.S.

    “Florida Deputies Dump Quadriplegic Man From Wheelchair”

  28. Ugh! Sorry about that!

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,330462,00.html

    “Florida Deputies Dump Quadriplegic Man From Wheelchair”

  29. The roads belong to the taxpayers. They can make up any ridiculous rules to use them that they want.

    No they can’t. All regulations are subject to a rational basis test.

  30. “i think it’s a bit more than that. there are so many damn rules that after getting yet another ticket/talking to/stern warning i just want to blow up.”

    There was an article I read a while back about people who were getting parking tickets assaulting meter maids. The response was to step up enforcement.

    While assault obviously isn’t acceptable, one wonders why people resort to violence over a parking ticket. Perhaps it’s because the fines and draconian parking rules are totally unreasonable?

  31. IIRC, the ticket is for having a rear window, and then partially obstructing it. If you had a completely obstructed rear view because the vehicle came from the factory without one, then that would be legal.

    To summarize: partially obstructed — illegal. Completely and permanently obstructed — legal.

    It’s all about traffic safety, kids.

  32. Hmmmm…as a USPS employee the rear of my mail vehicle (LLV) is completely obstructed.

  33. While assault obviously isn’t acceptable, one wonders why people resort to violence over a parking ticket. Perhaps it’s because the fines and draconian parking rules are totally unreasonable?

    Perhaps it’s because too many people feel they have a natural right to free and/or easy parking, which they don’t.

  34. “Ramsey | February 12, 2008, 5:11pm | #

    It does bother me to some small degree that the law is contingent on the state of mind of the enforcer.”

    The human element is always a factor. Otherwise, one would have to cite people even in cases where it would be inhumane to do so (or try cases where it would be a waste of taxpayer’s money to do so because the jury would be so sympathetic to the defendendant that the state had no chance). Works both ways.

    “ktc2 | February 12, 2008, 6:47pm | #

    Hmmmm…as a USPS employee the rear of my mail vehicle (LLV) is completely obstructed.”

    This law only applies to passenger cars. It does not apply to trucks (many delivery trucks of all sorts do not have a rear window). If the kid owned a pickup or SUV, he would not have been cited. Really.

  35. There was a time when the Association of Police Chiefs were officially against motorists having rear-view mirrors. They thought it would cost the police the element of surprise on speeding motorists.

  36. IIRC, the ticket is for having a rear window, and then partially obstructing it. If you had a completely obstructed rear view because the vehicle came from the factory without one, then that would be legal.

    To summarize: partially obstructed — illegal. Completely and permanently obstructed — legal.

    MP, I believe you were saying something? What was that again?

  37. Perhaps it’s because everytime one of us common people so much as farts in the wrong direction we get a ticket and a tsk tsk from the audience? 90% of the laws and regulations we have are unreasonable, just look at the brickbats section of this site for examples. everybody wants to be everybody else’s damn nanny with approving nods from the evr watching audience. nobody knows how to LIVE anymore.

  38. “prolefeed | February 12, 2008, 6:43pm | #

    IIRC, the ticket is for having a rear window, and then partially obstructing it. If you had a completely obstructed rear view because the vehicle came from the factory without one, then that would be legal.

    To summarize: partially obstructed — illegal. Completely and permanently obstructed — legal.

    It’s all about traffic safety, kids.”

    It’s illegal to make a passenger car without a rear window. It’s perfectly legal to make a “truck” without a rear window.

    This goes down to the fiction that SUVs and pickups are not passenger vehicles. Laws of all sorts (pollution controls, safety equipment, etc.) are weaker on “trucks” than on “cars”, because the theory is that they are to be used for legitimate business uses instead of carting people around, and therefore needed to be more flexible in terms of such rules. Which was true in 1970 or whenever when these types of laws started to appear, but is no longer true now that most people drive SUVs or pickups.

  39. OK, he’s eighteen, young dumb and full of cum vigor. If he had a lick of sense hewould have talked himself out of the first ticket and removed the sticker. He’ll be the first to proclaim that he is an adult and should be treated as such. Not a lot of sympathy from these quarters.

    OTOH, lots of times your back seat is so filled with crap you have to rely on that newfangled innovation, side mirrors. It’s a stupid law meeting up with a stubborn young man. Stubborn young man is going to lose 96.4% of the time.

  40. Constitutionally, as others have mentioned, the state can make these types of laws. Here in Georgia, you can legally paint your back window completely black if you drive a pickup, SUV or other utility vehicle but, in a car, the back window can not block more than 70% of visible light. Hopefully everyone would agree that it’s just another source of income for local governments and has nothing to do with safety.

    Elevating political symbolism over practical concerns, and picking pointless fights with government officials?

    You mean, like this guy?

  41. MP, I believe you were saying something? What was that again?

    Box trucks can’t have rear view mirrors because it is impractical. Passenger vehicles can. Since they can, the safety standards are based around that. The regulations have to do with a level of safety that can be reasonably achieved. They are not blind to the realities of vehicle construction.

  42. God bless this kid and FUCK the Cops.

  43. MP-But it is practical for pickups and SUVs to have rear mirrors, but they are classified as “trucks” for almost all laws and regulations.

  44. rear mirrors=rear windows

  45. I’ve seen box trucks with a web cam slapped on the back and a cheap screen in the front to view it from. This is hardly impractical, and its fairly cheap. If having a view directly behind the car was important to safety, you’d see these on just about every truck on the road.

  46. But it is practical for pickups and SUVs to have rear mirrors, but they are classified as “trucks” for almost all laws and regulations.

    “Almost all” does not include rear window regulations (at least in my home state of NH). The rear window regulation is a blanket regulation on all vehicles which are constructed with a rear window.

  47. “It does bother me to some small degree that the law is contingent on the state of mind of the enforcer.”

    If I was at work I would cite you a recent IL appellate court case that dealt with a similar issue only in reverse: Obstruction of windshield. The poor chap got pulled over for having a “material” obstruction – in that case, one of the standard gas station pine tree shaped air freshners – hanging from his rear view mirror.

    Of course, that wasn’t the main issue which got it to the appellate ct – rather it was the drugs the copper found. Luckily, the App Ct saw right through the Whren (i.e, pre-text) nature of the stop and said that a 4-inch air freshner, as a matter of law, could not have been a material obstruction nor a safety hazard (the trial counsel took photos from inside the car and even brought a replica pine tree to the suppression hearing).

    As a criminal defense attorney, we don’t get much to celebrate as our country descends into a full blown police state- but this was nice. And the guy got off. It was a Win-Win.

    Now only if we can do what the medical marijuana defense attorneys are doing in Cali and Colorado and get a court order returning the drugs -or the fair market value (bloated street value cops use) if the cops let the drugs get destroyed- I may be content to go into a new area of law.

  48. “OTOH, lots of times your back seat is so filled with crap you have to rely on that newfangled innovation, side mirrors.”

    This law has always baffled me. I can put boxes in my back seat, but not tinted windows or decals.

  49. MP,

    So the rational basis is not completely rational. Either you need to be able to see straight out the back of the vehicle or you don’t. So what if it’s impractical for certain classes of vehicle? When has that ever stopped the state? If it really is a safety issue, require it. If you don’t really need it, as we’ve amply demonstrated here, why does it matter if you block the window? Shit, spray paint it black. When you run into something backing up, you’ll be hosed, but thems the risks you take.

  50. If the guy had a jury trial for these citations and the jury saw that picture, would they convict? Would they agree that his view is “obstructed”?

  51. So why are those hideous American flag & screamin’ eagle window stickers legal?

  52. So what if it’s impractical for certain classes of vehicle? When has that ever stopped the state?

    Don’t confuse your dislike with statism with practicality. Regulations are almost never black and white. The best ones always take into account the realities of life. In this case, the reality is that it is impractical to create a blanket rear window regulation that covers all vehicles, since some vehicles can’t function successfully with a rear window. And you know that. Yet for some reason you persist on arguing that it’s irrational to have a regulation that accounts for practicalities.

    And don’t confuse any of this with my support for this regulation. I don’t think it’s necessary. But I also don’t think it’s irrational. And finally, the meathead at the center of all this remains a meathead.

  53. Of course, in a Ron Paul utopia, states would be perfectly within their rights — their “states rights” — to pass whatever rules of the road they saw fit.

    And in a Ron Paul utopia, the cops wouldn’t be all jacked up on their own jism and bothering people for bullshit like this.

    Your point?

  54. The videos that Franklin linked to are truly awesome.

  55. My understanding (although I may be wrong, and I’m sure there are variations by state) was that in general, if a vehicle does not have a rear window or otherwise a utile interior rearview mirror, then it must have oversized exterior mirrors (perhaps including fisheye wide-angle mirrors as well), and most importantly, a backup alarm (the thing that goes beep beep beep when you’re backing up).

    I’m almost positive about the backup alarm (at least in NY state), and I’m reasonably confident about the large exterior mirrors.

    I do not know, however, if the installation of a backup alarm on his vehicle would satisfy local laws.

  56. Les, yes, Franklin vid link is awesome.

    I like to drive back roads and last June we rolled out of Gila Bend bound for Tucson on 85 to 86. I swear to Gawd, from Ajo to Tucson we must have seen 150 Border Patrol vehicles in the space of an hour. There were, literally, more BP than real cars.

  57. Oh, I might add that Mrs TWC has strict rules about mouthing off to BP agents. I am not allowed to ask about where the effen warrant is or what the probable cause is.

    I’m not much for the couch so I keep my mouth shut.

  58. The actual MN statute doesn’t require obstruction, just a nontransparent sign:
    169.71 WINDSHIELD.
    Subdivision 1. Prohibitions generally; exceptions. (a) 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.

    And if the view is obstructed for other reasons, you are required to have proper mirrors:
    169.70 REAR VIEW MIRROR.
    Every motor vehicle which is so constructed, loaded or connected with another vehicle as
    to obstruct the driver’s view to the rear thereof from the driver’s position shall be equipped with a mirror so located as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway for a distance of at least 200 feet to the rear of such vehicle.
    http://public.findlaw.com/traffic-ticket-violation-law/state-traffic-law/minnesota-traffic-law.html

  59. And, I’m never overly polite to cops. They get what they ask for (DL, PoI, etc.) and nothing else. One ice day in Dallas, I was picking up the doc from the DART station parking lot and some DART officer flagged me down and screamed, “Do you know why I stopped you?” I told him that I didn’t know and wouldn’t guess. I asked him to tell me why he stopped me. He said speeding (no sign was posted) and ended up giving me a ticket for no front plate. We got into a small argument when he asked for my phone # for the ticket. I told him it wasn’t necessary to have my number when I’d already verified my home address correct. He thought I was disrespectful when in reality, I was only firm.

    The doc and I argued all the way home (and still do sometimes) about how I should’ve been nicer and just given the cop what he wanted.

  60. This law has always baffled me. I can put boxes in my back seat, but not tinted windows or decals.

    In Californicate if you have side mirrors on both sides, your legal to put boxes in the back seat or RP stickers on the back window.

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