Can You Get Ticketed For Flipping Off A Driver In Michigan?
It's something we've all done while on the road: Some motorhead decides they want to endanger your life while on the road just to shave off .05 seconds off their commute time, so we give them the one-finger salute and off they go. But is that something you can get in trouble for? I started asking this question and looking it up, and one case from Michigan back in 2017 suggests, that while it isn't encouraged, it may not be a ticket-able offense, at least not at first.
I found an article from Car & Driver about a woman named Debra Lee Cruise-Gulyas in Michigan, who was pulled over once, and after the incident, flipped off the cop as she was driving away and then pulled over AGAIN. She didn't feel this was legal and soon after, sued:
She was speeding, and Minard had elected to go easy on her, but after seeing that digital appendage aimed in his direction, he pulled her over a second time before she could even make it 100 yards away, according to her original complaint filed in Detroit's U.S. District Court in April 2018. Minard upgraded the ticket to a moving violation and Cruise-Gulyas drove away again, this time without flipping off Minard. She later sued Minard, alleging violations of her First Amendment right to free speech and her Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure.
It turns out she was right, as there was no legal or logical reason to pull her over a second time because "fits of rudeness" aren't illegal or "grounds for a seizure," according to the judge who worked the case. However, it turns out that if someone else sees or is around you when you do flip someone off, you could get ticketed for breach of the peace or disorderly conduct. Then again, if someone almost kills me in their car for negligent driving, I flip them off and the officer pulls ME over, I'm gonna have some thoughts on that.
Other Little Know Automobile Legalities
We recently looked at what the proper action is when trying to get a driver's attention, whether it's for them to turn their lights on or signal for another reason by way of flashing their lights at another driver. The general rule is it's cool, but closer than 500 feet may get you a ticket.
What about warming your car up in the winter? Well, a few years ago it became legal to do so after some controversy regarding the act.
Pulling through parking spaces is something we see a lot as well. While that ISN'T illegal, it can be dangerous, just like flipping someone off. Be careful, there are a lot of nutballs out there.