The other night my wife and I were driving off of an interstate coming towards a traffic light, as we got closer it started to turn yellow. So to make a little bit of fun I decided to flip off the stop light and to make the situation worse there was a police officer sitting on the opposite side of the light. It made me clinch up real quick given I wasn’t sure what the repercussions of flipping off (accidentally) a police officer. So this is what I have found out!
No, it is not illegal to flip off a police officer. The act is considered protected free speech under the First Amendment. However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences for your actions. While you can’t be arrested for flipping the officer off, he sure can find a reason that you might not know of to pull you over and give you a ticket for another reason. It’s best to control your anger and go on with your day.
Keep reading for some interesting ideas around this topic.
Why You Shouldn’t Flip An Officer Off
Flipping off a police officer is not going to end well for you. The act is considered an aggressive and disrespectful behavior, which is likely to anger the officer. This could potentially lead to them giving you a ticket for something minor or even escalating into physical confrontation and arrest.
In addition, flipping off an officer is not going to do anything to help your case or situation. It is not going to make them let you off with a warning or be lenient on any potential charges. Officers are trained to remain professional and handle disrespectful behavior, so flipping them off is not going to change their actions.
Why The First Amendment Protects Flipping Off A Cop
The First Amendment protects freedom of speech, which includes non-verbal expression. Flipping off a police officer is considered a form of non-verbal expression and is protected under the First Amendment as long as it is not accompanied by threatening language or actions.
This protection was affirmed in the Supreme Court case Cohen v. California in 1971. The defendant, Paul Cohen, was arrested and charged with disturbing the peace while wearing a jacket that had the words “Fuck the Draft” on it in a courthouse. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Cohen, stating that his actions were protected under the First Amendment as a form of expression and did not constitute an immediate threat.
Another example is Cruise-Gulyas v. Minard, a lady in Michigan flipped an officer off after getting a citation for speeding. The officer then issued her a citation for a non moving violation then after she left and flipped him off he upgraded her ticket to a moving violation. Later on the court ruled in favor of the defendant, stating that flipping off is a form of protected speech under the First Amendment.
These are just a few of the many cases there have been proving that it isn’t illegal to flip a cop off.
Can I Still Get Pulled Over If I Flip Off a Cop?
While you can’t get in trouble for the simple act of flipping a police officer off I can bet you that he will be watching you very closely for anything you might be doing wrong. The act is not going to make the officer have a good impression of you and they may be more likely to pull you over for something minor or even fabricate a reason to pull you over.
You don’t want to be on the other side of an officer that is out to get you.
Other Acts Can Lead To Consequences
While flipping off a police officer is not illegal, there are other actions that can lead to consequences. Threatening language or physical aggression towards an officer is considered a crime and can result in arrest. In addition, refusing to comply with an officer’s orders is also illegal and can result in charges.
It is important to remember to remain calm and respectful during interactions with police officers. It is also important to know your rights in these situations and to politely assert them if necessary.
Why Flipping Someone Off Is Rude
Flipping someone off is considered a universal gesture of disrespect and anger. It is seen as crude, rude, and aggressive behavior.
In some cultures, it is even seen as a curse and can lead to severe consequences.
So why is flipping someone off considered rude? It is believed to have originated from medieval Europe when people would show the back of their hand, which was considered dirty since they used it for basic hygiene tasks, as a sign of disrespect or anger. The gesture is also related to the middle finger being the longest and therefore the most offensive when thrust towards someone.
Finding Healthy Ways to Control Your Anger
Look, I understand in the heat of the moment you can be pissed but that won’t change anything. You need to understand that flipping off the police is not going to solve the situation or make things better. It’s always good to follow the golden rule in these situations. Here are some tips on how to control your anger during a tense situation with a police officer:
- Take deep breaths and try to focus on calming yourself
- Remind yourself that reacting aggressively is not going to help the situation or change the outcome
- Think about the potential consequences of your actions
- Try to communicate calmly and respectfully with the officer
- If necessary, assert your rights politely but firmly
If You’ve Been Pulled Over an, Consult an Attorney
If you’ve been given a ticket after flipping a cop off here are some reasons to contact an attorney.
An attorney is able to advise you on the best course of action and potentially negotiate with the prosecutor. They can also represent you in court and help defend your case. It is important to remember that every situation is different and it is always wise to consult an attorney for legal advice.