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10 Amish Men Jailed Over Buggy Fines by KY Judge

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on January 17, 2012 8:03 AM

A legal skirmish over Amish buggies has resulted in jail time. A group of around 10 Amish men were sentenced this week after they refused to pay fines. They had decided not to place orange reflective triangles on their Amish buggies.

The Kentucky men are a part of a conservative group known as the Swartzentruber. Members group live modestly. They don't have electricity or plumbing.

The orange reflective triangles were simply too flashy. The religious men said placing the triangles on their buggies would violate their beliefs, according to the AP.

They also refused to pay the fines levied against them after the violation.

A judge found them in contempt of court. Their sentences varied. One man, Ananias Byler, received 10 days in jail. He owed $489 in highway fines. His jail sentence will wipe the fine off the books.

Contempt of court can take two different forms. It can either be civil or criminal. Civil contempt usually involves defendants who fail to comply with a court order. Defendants in this situation may be fined.

Criminal contempt is more punitive in nature. Defendants convicted of criminal contempt can be sentenced to prison time. They may also be subject to more fines.

When sentencing the men, the judge acknowledged their argument. Judge Deborah Crooks said: “I totally understand your objection.” But she went on to note that they were violating the law.

Without orange reflective triangles, Amish buggies may be a safety risk. The safety triangles help other drivers spot the buggies. This could reduce the risk of car accidents. The Amish buggy jail sentence will likely only add fuel to the debate. Kentucky is currently considering amending their laws to permit Amish to use gray reflective tape, reports the AP.

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