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Man Cited For 'Flipping The Bird' At Another Driver

8:15 AM, Jun 28, 2011   |    comments
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BALLWIN, Mo. (KSDK) - A Florissant man is fighting his case in court after being issued a ticket for using a certain hand gesture toward another driver. Was his freedom of speech violated?

It's a story that's been the talk around the water cooler. Steven Pogue has been getting a lot of attention lately, all because of a little yellow piece of paper given to him by Ballwin police back in April.

It's a ticket for flipping another driver the bird.

"I was frustrated," said Pogue.

Pogue tells NewsChannel 5 it was a busy Saturday and he was sitting at a light on Manchester, heading west at Holloway. That's when Pogue says another driver ventured into an already jammed intersection as the light was turning red, blocking his way, and voiding his green light.

"The driver of the van and I made contact. I was driving west and the arm was there and like I said, not proud, showed my displeasure in them blocking the intersection," said Pogue.

Just a few blocks later, Pogue was pulled over by Ballwin police and given a citation.

"He said, 'Yeah, I was thinking about going after them until I saw you flip them off.' So it's like let's see, the person that breaks the two laws, walks. The person kind of doing their first amendment free speech right thing gets the ticket," Pogue said.

The ordinance cited for the ticket reads, no person shall "...extend any part of his body outside of the vehicle expect the hand and arm for signaling purposes only."

"I signaled, so I think I'm in compliance," said Pogue.

Ballwin police are not talking about this citation on camera, but an officer did tell NewsChannel 5 this ordinance is not used very often. In fact, officers say there's not even a set fine for it on the books.
Pogue says he's concerned his freedom of speech was violated, and is prepared to represent himself, during his next court appearance.

"I'm just going to use the jurisprudence system and see if I can go to court on the 23rd of August and prove myself innocent," he said.

NewsChannel 5 contacted several attorneys about this case. Most say this is not an issue of first amendment rights, but more about safety. An attorney for the ACLU say this particular citation is a violation of free speech and the group is now interested in this case.

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