Legal Grounds - The FindLaw Legal News with an Attitude Blog

Creative Ways to Legally Protest Tickets

Americans hate paying tickets. But they do love to protest. And they can be creative when it comes to paying what they feel are unjustified tickets under protest.

Luckily, the courts have supported these exercises of our First Amendment rights. Even the right to scrawl "F**K YOUR S**TTY TOWN BITCHES" on our speeding tickets.

Paying in Protest

In what might be our second favorite court ruling this year, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York held that profanity on a parking ticket is protected speech under the First Amendment.

Mr. William Barboza of Connecticut was issued a speeding ticket by the town of Liberty, New York. Like the true American patriot he is, he made his feelings about this probable speed-trap town known on his ticket, writing "F**K YOUR S**TTY TOWN BITCHES" at the top and replacing the town name with "TYRANNY."

Understandably, this did not go over well with local Liberty law enforcement, who arrested Barboza and charged him with aggravated harassment. After a not-s**tty judge dismissed the charges, Barboza sued the s**tty town, its s**tty district attorney, and the s**tty officers who arrested him.

Judge Cathy Seibel ruled in favor of Barboza, saying he "suffered a deprivation of his First Amendment rights when he was arrested under color of law," and that his protest note, "though crude and offensive to some, did not convey an imminent threat and was made in the context of complaining about government activity." And now the town is liable for damages.

Paying in Pennies

Barboza is just the latest in a long line of payment protesters, whose modus operandi seems to be to pay fines and bills in pennies. While we understand the frustration and generally support fun protest, we're on the record as saying penny payment is played out.

Paying in Pork

But protesting your ticket with pig parts? Now that we can get behind. And while we, personally, wouldn't go so far as smearing a police station with bacon and sausage, we can appreciate the time and anger it takes to fold 137 origami pigs out of dollar bills.

So go ahead and protest that bogus ticket you got -- just do something fun about it.

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