Let’s face it. Most drivers know where the speed traps are in town. They let others know; they avoid them, especially when they know they’re speeding or doing something else behind the wheel they shouldn’t. When it comes to DUI checkpoints throughout the nation, sometimes police departments announce them but most of the time they actually don’t. This is so that they can catch those driving under the influence.
An East Hartford, Connecticut man was cited warning drivers of a DUI checkpoint by holding a side ahead of the actual checkpoint. This type of crack down on those warning others is becoming more common across the nation.
Michael Picard, the man charged, was holding a sign that said: “Cops ahead. Keep calm and remain silent.” He says he “advocate[s] for freedom” by holding the sign before the DUI checkpoint in town and feels his rights were violated on September 11, 2015 when he was arrested. Picard was holding his sign near the I-84 on/off ramp in West Hartford.
According to Picard, after an hour holding the sign, State Police began questioning him about what he was doing. One officer allegedly told Picard he couldn’t take his picture. At the time of the incident, Picard was carrying a gun which he was licensed to do. Picard was cited with creating a public disturbance and reckless use of a highway by a pedestrian.
Joseph Sastre, Picard’s attorney, knocked the original fine of $300 down to $25 but are fighting to eliminate the fine completely. Sastre said of the case, “They didn’t like what he was doing, holding the sign, so they came up with a reason to interfere with what he was doing although he was protected by the First Amendment.”
According to officers at the scene, one of the reasons they confronted Picard was that drivers saw he was carrying a weapon. When they arrived at the checkpoint, they informed police about it. State Police were noted saying that they didn’t have an issue with Picard’s sign but the fact that he was standing on the highway on/off ramp in the dark could be a safety issue.