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Can You Get Pulled Over for Doing This?


Flipping someone off, commonly known as giving the finger, is a frequent response in tense traffic situations. It can sometimes lead to being pulled over. However, whether it’s actually illegal is a gray area. There are no specific laws prohibiting the gesture, so any citation would likely be for a general offense like disorderly conduct. Often as part of a broader case of road rage involving actions like honking, shouting, and name-calling.

For instance, in Sedona, Arizona, a driver received a disorderly conduct ticket for using an offensive gesture after being cut off. Legal experts suggested the driver had a good chance of contesting the ticket with professional help. This is due to the nuanced nature of such cases.

Another example involves Steve Pogue from St. Louis, who was ticketed after flipping off a driver who ran a red light. The officer chose to ticket Pogue for extending a body part out of his vehicle, instead of the initial offender. Pogue fought the case, arguing his gesture was a form of signaling protected by free speech. Consequently, Ballwin repealed the ordinance against extending body parts from vehicles. With the ACLU supporting the move as a protection of free expression.

A retired Seattle officer recounted a similar situation where he couldn’t directly charge a driver for flipping him off. However, he used a different legal avenue to address the driver’s warrant. Thus, while flipping someone off can result in being pulled over, the legality and outcome of such incidents vary, and it’s essential to be aware of broader legal implications.
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