Natalie Plummer, a Houston woman, was incarcerated for 12 hours and faces a misdemeanor charge for merely holding up a sign that said “Speed Trap”. The philanthropic pedestrian noticed police officers pulling over speeders bicycling. She parked her bike, and then wrote a speed trap warning sign on a grocery bag. Another police officer saw her and, then, arrested her.
Houston police claim that Plummer was illegally standing in the road when a sidewalk was present, a misdemeanor. Plummer denied ever leaving the sidewalk and claims that the arresting officer made up the charge so he could stop her kind-hearted efforts.
“He couldn’t take me to jail for holding up this sign or he would have. So all he could do was make up something fake about it,” Plummer told ABC affiliate KRTK. The officer searched Plummer’s backpack and even threatened to arrest her for obstructing justice, a felony charge.
In New York, it is not illegal to warn drivers of a police presence. However, police officers in New York can and have used Vehicle and Traffic Law 375(3) as a basis for issuing a summons to motorists warning other motorists about a speed trap. The “no dazzling headlines” law generally prohibits drivers from illuminating their high beams when they will interfere with another driver that is on-coming within 500 feet (or another vehicle whose rear within 200 feet). It does not apply to motorists who flash high beams to signify an intention to pass another vehicle. Surprisingly, a violation of VTL 375(3) carries 2 points (and roughly a $140 fine).