Skip to comments.Seattle man's speed trap warning sign lands him $138 ticket
Posted on 06/26/2015 5:23:23 AM PDT by JoeProBono
SEATTLE -- Panhandlers carry them. Protestors call them essential.
But one Seattle man's sign -- warning of a speed trap -- has been dubbed illegal and could end up costing him $138.
"I thought it was nonsense," said Daniel Gehlke, who made the handwritten sign "Cops Ahead! Stop at sign and light!" with a marker and a Rubbermaid top. "I am a believer that the Constitution, the Bill of Rights are there specifically so they can't be modified or restricted. This clearly is not a stop sign."
Gehlke was holding the sign near 14th Avenue S. and S. Washington Street about 10 days ago to warn drivers of traffic enforcement at a nearby intersection. He said he stood down the street from police for about five minutes before officers saw the sign and confronted him.
"I'm Officer Elliott. I'm with the Seattle Police Department, and I'm letting you know that's against the law," a motorcycle cop is heard saying on the interaction, which was caught on cell phone video.
Gehlke asks the officer to clarify what is illegal.
"What specifically am I breaking, Officer Elliott?" Gehlke asks.
"11.50.560," replies the officer, referring to municipal code, "which is forbidden devices or signs."
"So I can't hold a sign?" Gehlke responds.
"No you can't," the officer says.
"The specific issue is that he was giving instructions to motorists through the words that he chose, like 'slow down' or 'caution,' " said Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, a spokesman for the Seattle Police Department. "That's exactly the issue. It's the words that give people orders referring traffic."
Municipal code outlaws any sign or device "bearing any such words as 'danger,' 'stop,' 'slow,'" and more. "Directions likely to be construed as giving warning to or regulating traffic," it says.
Gehlke believes he's being targeted because of the content of the sign, not because of the crafting of the language.
"I do think this is police overstepping their bounds and using, twisting laws," he said. "(The code) doesn't read like it's meant for stop signs like this. It's clearly meant for people trying to put up 'no parking' signs or stop sign or a yield signs on a public right-of-way. Not someone who made a sign on a Rubbermaid."
He wonders if protestors holding signs reading "stop police brutality" in a city intersection would also be cited for the same infraction, or suburban families who post notices reading "slow, children at play."
He plans to appeal -- and use a modified sign in the future, with the word "stop" removed.
"I wasn't trying to bother the cops," he said. "The idea was to get people to look and say, 'oh, there are cops. Maybe I should slow down.' "
Didn’t a Federal Appeals Court determine this to be free speech in a recent case?
Yes, which is why cops are trying the “giving traffic instruction” angle.
He can say that cops are ahead. He can’t say “slow down.”
I believe he altered his sign and is back on his mission. No Constitutional crisis.
The police say the reason for speed traps is to slow traffic down in an area where speeding is a problem ( of course it isn’t to raise revenue /sarc ). So, all this guy was doing is what the cops say the speed traps are for - slowing people down.
Why didn’t he just go on social media like everyone else?
Warning drivers of a revenue collection armed robbery is a crime. This will earn respect for the police. Not.
Yep, it puts the lie to their excuse.
They’re like leftists - they have an abhorrent agenda that people would oppose,
so they find “excuse issues” that sound like they have good intentions in order to advance that agenda.
Cops ran a ticket factory on the other side of an overpass. 3 car, 6-man operation.
I got pulled over and they tried to cite me with 4 charges (including ‘not wearing corrective eye equipment’, I had contacts in). He screwed up the paperwork so much, he just cut me loose.
They were running this from the parking lot of a business (dog kennel/grooming). I guess the business owner didn’t like surrendering his parking lot or the negative association people had with it. They put a metal fence up around it, cut that out (I still see their 3-car operation at rush hour on some other routes).
Maybe he should change it to read:
“Cops ahead, obey traffic signs”
Actually, yes, he can.
11.50.560 - Forbidden devices. A. No person shall erect or maintain at or near a street or alley any structure, sign, light or device that is:
1. Visible from a street or alley and simulating any directional, warning, or regulatory sign or likely to be mistaken for such a sign or bearing any such words as "danger," "stop," "slow," "turn," "impound," or similar words, figures, or directions likely to be construed as giving warning to or regulating traffic;
Neither of those two items I put in bold apply here. His sign is not simulated, his sign is not likely to be mistaken for an actual traffic sign. It's a lid.
A while back in my neighborhood, a pedestrian was run down and killed by a idiot driver who was more interested in his cell phone than his driving.
After that, signs appeared all along that road urging drivers to slow down.
I didn’t hear of any of them getting tickets.
In this case in Seattle, the guy was ticketed for urging people to evade municipal taxes, a serious crime.
Seeing the actual ordinance, I agree with you.
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