Horn-blowing drivers have tickets dismissed

Four motorists ticketed Monday for honking their support for striking Medford teachers won't be prosecuted for unnecessary noise violations after all.

Jackson County Justice of the Peace Joe Charter said Wednesday that he has dismissed the $160 tickets at the request of the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, which issued the tickets Monday to passersby of protesters at Griffin Creek Elementary School.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Andrea Carlson confirmed that the tickets were dismissed, saying they were written under an incorrect state statute.

The Oregon Revised Statute used in Monday's citations was ORS 815.230, which is the defective-horn violation, Carlson said. The correct ORS would have been 815.225, which covers violations of use limits on sound equipment, she said.

The tickets will not be re-issued, she said.

A Mail Tribune article Tuesday noted that Oregon Court of Appeals records show appellate judges threw out the tickets in three occasions — two in Eugene in 1992 and another in Multnomah County in 2006 — after ruling they violated Article 1, Section 8, of the Oregon Constitution guaranteeing "free expression of opinion."

Even so, the law remains on the books, having never been repealed by the Oregon Legislature or by the initiative process.

The head of the American Civil Liberties Union in Oregon had offered his organization's help in fighting the citations if necessary.

Medford police said they did not issue any similar citations.

The teachers have been on strike since Feb. 6, with daily picketing at several schools. Monday was the first day of picketing at Griffin Creek.

That school, along with Ruch Elementary, are the two Medford School District schools located within the sheriff's department's jurisdiction.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email at mfreeman@mailtribune.com.

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