Tricky Tennessee law imposes mandatory $50 fine for “obscene” bumper stickers

Pin it

Tennessee drivers will keep on truckin', but a new state law mandates an automatic fifty-dollar fine for vehicles caught displaying "obscene" or "patently offensive" bumper stickers. (Insert despised politician joke here.) The law also encompasses watching potentially offensive video (ie, porn or Pauly Shore comedies) on car TVs visible to other drivers.

The law previously gave judges wider latitude in deciding how much drivers should be punished for bad taste, imposing subjective fines between two and fifty dollars. The definition of what constitutes obscenity is slippery, and in a less-than-stellar economy, Tennessee drivers exercising their free speech face the prospect of inconvenient courthouse trips to try and change judges' minds.

Democratic State Representative Gary Moore, who co-sponsored the bill after receiving irate calls from constituents, said the law doesn't violate any constitutional protections, maintaining that "when you get into crossing the line, so to speak, you do not have a right to impose your speech on other people." Where's Clarence Darrow when you need him?