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Man's right to free speech violated during traffic stop

If you have ever been pulled over before, especially if you have been pulled over multiple times for minimal reasons, you likely understand why one Colorado man did what he did.

Last October, a 51-year-old driver was pulled over in Boulder County for allegedly speeding. He was driving in a school zone during the time school was letting out, making it unsurprising that a nearby police officer would pull him over for the traffic violation.

According to a Denver report, the driver thought that the speed limit in the area was 35 mph at the time he was pulled over. Because it was the time when kids get out of classes, however, he was wrong; the speed limit was reduced to 20 mph, meaning he was driving too fast.

No matter what the officer's reason was for pulling the suspect over, it isn't surprising that the driver was not happy to be in his predicament. He reportedly expressed his discontentment with the officer giving him a speeding ticket and didn't worry about his choice of language. Though the driver did swear at the officer, it is important to note that he did not physically threaten him.

That point is worth a lot - $20,000 to be exact.

After the driver used profanity when talking to the officer, his mere traffic stop turned into an arrest. He and his attorney challenged the arrest, and the county agreed with them. The police man didn't have a right to arrest the driver, and doing so without probable cause was a violation of his right to free speech.

The driver admitted to the speeding charge, but in the end, the October incident wound up costing the county more than it cost him. For his wrongful arrest, the county agreed to pay him $20,000.

Source

ABC 7 News: "Speeder Arrested For Cursing Deputy Wins $20K Settlement," Alan Gathright, 8 Jun. 2011

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