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Saturday, July 20, 2024 | Back issues
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Court Nixes Mich. Ban on Rearview Mirror Baubles

(CN) - The 6th Circuit struck down a vehicle safety law in Michigan that banned drivers from hanging any view-obstructing baubles from their rearview mirrors. The court said the law is vague and gives the police too much discretion to decide which ornaments are obstructive and which aren't.

"Many vehicles on the road today have something hanging from the rearview mirror, whether it be an air freshener, a parking pass, fuzzy dice or a rosary," Judge Martin wrote.

"Because of this, many vehicles on the road may violate the obstruction law, but the statute itself provides no guidance either to motorists or police. ... It is simply up to the officer on the street to decide," the judge added.

The law was challenged by Lonnie Ray Davis, whose dangling Tweety Bird air freshener led police to find cocaine, a loaded pistol, a stun gun and an open pint of cognac in his car. Davis was sentenced to nearly 16 years in federal prison.

But his sentence will stand, the three-judge panel ruled, because the arresting officer had no reason to believe that Michigan's ban on obstructive mirror ornaments was unconstitutional.

"Indeed, police are under a duty to enforce all laws that are not obviously unconstitutional," Martin wrote.

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