LAFAYETTE, La. (KPEL News) - If you drive around Lafayette or any other big city in Louisiana, you will hear horns honking, especially when traffic builds up.

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You're at a red light and it turns green but the driver in front of you is looking down at his/her phone. You decide to honk your horn at them? Is that legal?

What does Louisiana law say about honking your vehicle horns?

A. (1) Every motor vehicle when operated upon a highway of this state shall be equipped with a horn in good working order and capable of emitting sound audible under normal conditions from a distance of not less than two hundred feet, but no horn or other warning device shall emit an unreasonably loud or harsh sound or a whistle.  The driver of a motor vehicle shall, when reasonably necessary to ensure safe operation, give audible warning with his horn, but shall not otherwise use such horn when upon a highway of this state.

unsplash via Julian Hochgesang
unsplash via Julian Hochgesang
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In the second part of the law, it addresses persons with mobility impairments and when they are allowed to use the horn.

(2) Persons with mobility impairments, while operating a motor vehicle upon any state or local highway of this state, may utilize the horn of such vehicle if the nature of the operator's physical impairment requires use of the horn in a situation other than one required to ensure safe operation of the motor vehicle and the operator is operating a motor vehicle with a mobility impairment license plate or the operator has been issued a mobility impairment hang tag.

"Safe operation" is the key phrase in both parts of the law as drivers are only supposed to honk their horns when in a situation where it's needed for safety reasons.

Could Honking a Horn be Classified as a First Amendment Right in the US?

You know, drivers are expressing themselves when they blow their horns in disgust of another driver. Some drivers even use their horns to send a political message. In 2022, a father and son blared their truck horn in defiance of Canada's injunction against honking.

In the case Porter v. Martinez, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on a woman who used her horn to send out 14 honks at a rally protesting California Representative Darrell Issa. The website constitutioncenter.org points out Susan Porter lost when the judges ruled in favor of the San Diego County Sheriff's deputy who cited her.

Of course, I'm sure Elk Grove Police appreciated when a Sacramento County employee honked a horn to help stop a knife attack.

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