We learned something new today: Your speech may be protected by the First Amendment…but your car’s voice is not.
Back in 2017, a woman in California named Susan Porter was cited for “unreasonable use of a vehicle horn” after she honked at least 14 times as she drove past a protest.
She’s been fighting the fine ever since…claiming that it resulted in her “censoring herself by refraining from using her vehicle horn for expressive purposes.”
Well, a federal appeals court has just ruled that honking a car horn is not protected as free speech. The court said that there should be regulations on excessive horn use, because its primary purpose is to alert others of a traffic safety hazard and not to be “expressive for First Amendment purposes.”
If this isn’t silly enough, the original citation was dismissed because the deputy didn’t show up in traffic court. So Susan has been fighting this car horn case for years for nothing. It’s unclear how much it has cost her in legal fees.