Nashville man cited for 'obscene' bumper sticker - WSMV Channel 4

Nashville man cited for 'obscene' bumper sticker

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Dustin Owens was fined $50 for the sticker. (WSMV) Dustin Owens was fined $50 for the sticker. (WSMV)
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

A Metro police officer recently cited a driver for what he called an obscene bumper sticker.

"My brother ordered it and it was nighttime when he put it on because he was trying to make a joke out of it and I was sleeping," said Dustin Owens as he pointed to the decal on his car window.

Owens said the sticker wasn't his idea, but he never dreamed he'd get in trouble for having it.

"I was just shocked. I was like, why?” Owens said.

Owens said he was driving home from work on Friday when a Metro police officer pulled him over and cited him for having an obscene bumper sticker.

"I mean you can have a sign in the middle of the road with cuss words all over it protesting and there's nothing they could do, and I can't have this," Owens said.

Owens posted pictures of the sticker and the citation on Facebook, where passionate people on both sides of the issue began weighing in.

"Some people say I should fight it and get it thrown out. Other people say I'm classless and called me all kinds of names, but they don't know me so I don't worry about that," Owens said.

It is in fact illegal in Tennessee to have obscene or offensive bumper stickers, window signs and markings on cars. In 2011, lawmakers even stiffened the penalty for violations.

But what is obscene? Channel 4 reached out to Metro police who said they don't make the laws, they simply enforce them. Ultimately, the courts will have to interpret whether that law applies to this situation. 

"If I took the words off right there, it's two stick figures dancing, that's it,” Owens said.

Owens has some decisions to make. First of all, he has a $50 ticket that he can either pay or fight.

"I don't have money to sit here and go to court for it," Owens said.

The officer also told Owens he has 45 days to remove the sticker.

"I haven't decided if I'm going to or not. I shouldn't have to. Maybe I should just change it a little bit," Owens said.

Since 2011, Metro police have only cited four other people with violating the state's obscene sticker law.   

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