In May of 2019, Florida man Dillon Shane Webb was pulled over by Columbia County Sheriff’s Deputy Travis English, who objected to the sticker on the back window of Webb’s truck, which said, in all capital letters, “I EAT A**.” Deputy English ordered Webb to remove one of the letters during the traffic stop. Webb refused citing his First Amendment rights. But he was arrested and booked in jail for “obscene writing on vehicle” and “resisting an officer without violence.” Did he have a First Amendment right to have that sticker? Was the arrest unconstitutional? What happened to the criminal charges? Was there a lawsuit? If so, was it successful? You might be surprised…
Section 847.011(2) makes it a misdemeanor offense to possess
“any sticker, decal emblem or other device attached to a motor vehicle containing obscene descriptions, photographs, or depictions . . . .”
Florida law further defines “obscene” as material which
(a) The average person, applying contemporary standards, would find, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest; (b) Depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct as specifically defined herein; and
(c) Taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
Fla. Stat. § 847.001(10).
Under section 843.02, Florida Statutes,
“[w]hoever shall resist, obstruct, or oppose any officer . . . in the lawful execution of any legal duty, without offering or doing violence to the person of the officer, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree . . . .”
Here’s the memorandum opinion from the case: