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Seattle man ticketed $138 for speed trap warning sign

Daniel Gehlke said he feels Seattle police are "overstepping their bounds" and violating his First Amendment rights with the citation.

By
Ben Hooper

SEATTLE, June 24 (UPI) -- A Seattle man who held a sign at a roadside warning of a nearby speed trap said "it was nonsense" that he was issued a $138 citation.

Daniel Gehlke said he was holding his handmade sign -- a Rubbermaid bin lid bearing the words "Cops Ahead! Stop at sign and light!" -- at the side of a road for about five minutes June 17 before he was confronted by a police officer on a motorcycle.

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"I'm Officer Elliott. I'm with the Seattle Police Department, and I'm letting you know that's against the law," the officer says in a video of the encounter Gehlke shared on YouTube.

Gehlke asks what specific law he's breaking and the officer explains the violation involved "forbidden devices or signs," as the law prohibits residents from posting signs with "words that say stop, slow, turn -- anything that gives directions, you can't do that."

"I thought it was nonsense," Gehlke told KOMO-TV. "I am a believer that the Constitution, the Bill of Rights are there specifically so they can't be modified or restricted. This clearly is not a stop sign."

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"I do think this is police overstepping their bounds and using, twisting laws," he said. "[The code] doesn't read like it's meant for stop signs like this. It's clearly meant for people trying to put up 'no parking' signs or stop sign or a yield signs on a public right-of-way. Not someone who made a sign on a Rubbermaid."

Gehlke said he plans to fight the citation in court and will continue holding his sign -- but with the word "stop" omitted.

"I wasn't trying to bother the cops," he said. "The idea was to get people to look and say, 'oh, there are cops. Maybe I should slow down.'"

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