01/05/2011 // West Palm Beach, FL, US // Sandra Quinlan // Sandra Quinlan

Philadelphia, PA—Pennsylvania State Police have settled a lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a Luzerne County woman who was ticketed when a cop heard her call a motorcyclist an “asshole” after he/she swerved near her. The ACLU on Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011 said the police department agreed to stop handing out disorderly conduct citations to individuals who use profane language, as reported by Reuters.

“Besides being a waste of police resources, these types of citations are often used by police to ‘punish’ people who argue with them,” explained a civil rights attorney for the ACLU’s Pennsylvania chapter.

Pennsylvania State Police agreed to stop citing people who use profanity or make profane gestures, whether or not they are directed towards the officers. The ACLU contended the department issues approximately 750 citations related to profanity on an annual basis.

As part of the settlement, PSP officers will receive obligatory training in free speech. The ACLU said the officers will be told that profanity, coarse speech or offensive gestures are not always to be considered “obscene.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania filed the lawsuit in May 2010 on behalf of a woman who was ticketed for her use of profanity. The ACLU noted the motorcyclist that the plaintiff yelled the curse word at was also cited.

The ACLU’s civil rights lawyer noted, “We are very happy the state police will proactively address this problem.”

Legal News Reporter: Sandra Quinlan- Legal News for Pennsylvania Civil Rights Lawyers.

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