Is it Illegal to Flip Off a Cop?
Let’s say your speeding on US-95 by the Rainbow Curve and you’re pulled over by a Nevada Highway Patrol officer. The officer generously gives you a ticket for speeding only 10 miles over the speed limit, even though you were actually going 25 miles over the posted limit. However, you are nonetheless pissed because you even got the ticket so, as you drive off, you decide to stick your hand out the window and flip off the cop as you drive away. Can the officer pull you over again for the vulgar act of flipping him off and give you a ticket for going 25 miles over the speed limit?
In a word: No! Your vulgar act of flipping off the cop is protected by the First Amendment and unless the cop has some other legal reason to pull you over a second time, the cop would be violating your Fourth Amendment rights by pulling you over the second time.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently reminded a Michigan police officer “that a citizen who raises her middle finger engages in speech protected by the First Amendment.” The case was a civil rights lawsuit brought against the officer by the driver who flipped off the cop.
You can read the Court’s decision here: http://www.opn.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/19a0043p-06.pdf
You can read an article about the case here: http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/flipping-the-bird-is-protected-by-the-first-amendment-federal-appeals-court-says-in-cop-stop-case/?utm_source=maestro&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=weekly_email