Follow us:

The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

October 27, 2011 at 10:02 AM

High court overturns conviction for honking car horn

The state Supreme Court has overturned the misdemeanor conviction of a Snohomish County woman who was arrested for sounding her car horn for a long time early in the morning in front of a neighbor’s house.

The woman, Helen Immelt,  was convicted of honking her horn in front of the house of a Monroe neighbor who complained that Immelt was keeping chickens in her yard.

In a divided opinion, the justices ruled that the Snohomish County code that prohibits horn honking was overbroad and reversed the conviction.

 “This ordinance, on its face, prohibits legitimate expressions of speech conveyed by a horn honk,” the justices ruled. “Horn honking does constitute protected speech in many instances, regardless of whether it would constitute protected speech in Immelt’s particular case.”

Immelt received a letter from her homeowners association telling her that covenants prohibited her from keeping the chickens. When she learned who had made the complaint, she went to his house  and leaned on her horn for 10 minutes, awakening neighbors.

She was arrested and convicted, with the Snohomish County judge saying, “Horn honking per se is not free speech.”.

Comments | More in Government, The Blotter | Topics: chickens, conviction overturned, Supreme Court

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►