Daniel Garcia's Saturday night ended with an unwanted surprise.
While driving downtown after the night's police raid on Occupy Denver, Garcia chose to publicly support the group by honking his horn. This, he would quickly learn, is technically illegal. Thanks to "either two or three honks," he says, Garcia was pulled over and ticketed by a police officer near 14th Street.
Just to be clear, Garcia takes out the ticket and reads it. On November 12, at 8:30 p.m., he was cited for violating city ordinance 54-71, labeled "horns or other warning devices." Garcia drove down 14th Street and was about to turn onto Broadway when a supportive honk earned a show of headlights behind him, accompanied by the signal for him to pull over.
The details of the "horns and other warning devices" ordinance are:
Every motor vehicle when operated upon the streets and highways of the city shall be equipped with a horn in good working order and capable of emitting sound audible under normal atmospheric conditions for a distance of not less than two hundred (200) feet, but no horn or other warning device shall emit an unreasonably loud or harsh sound. The driver of a vehicle, when reasonably necessary to ensure safe operation, shall give an audible warning with his horn, but shall not otherwise use such horn when upon a street or highway.
"A cop asked me if I was responding to an emergency situation, and I said no," Garcia says. "He asked me why I was honking, and I said I was supporting Occupy Denver. He told me there's a city ordinance against honking outside of an emergency situation and then stepped aside to search my car and trunk."
The entire situation lasted about twenty minutes, after which Garcia was handed a $60 ticket and warned not to return to the area. "He said, 'If I see you over here again, we'll pull you over and impound your car for disturbing the peace,'" Garcia says. "I asked if that warning also applied to the next day, but the cop walked away."
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Garcia's future court date is currently scheduled for December 23, and he plans to plead not guilty and contest the ticket. The next day, Garcia was again present during a ticketing at Occupy Denver, though not his own this time: On Sunday, he watched an officer give a citation for stopping illegally to someone who was trying to pick up a protester in front of the park. In the past few days, several protesters and supporters have reported being ticketed for stopping illegally in front of the occupation while attempting to drop off supplies.
"I felt like my horn was doing what it was supposed to do, which was supporting Occupy Denver," Garcia says. "I'm going to go in, plead not guilty, tell the judge my horn was not defective in any way, shape or form and that I feel like I was harassed unnecessarily."
More from our Occupy Denver archive: "Occupy Denver: Police start ticketing drivers who stop to donate in front of Civic Center Park."