Nearly five months after a Frisco man was arrested for standing in a median to warn drivers about speed traps, the City of Frisco passed an ordinance Tuesday night prohibiting people from being in medians.
Ron Martin, 33, would stand in the median on Eldorado Parkway, holding a sign that read "Police ahead," to let drivers know there would be an officer waiting for them at the other side of the bridge.
He was arrested in October 2013, accused of violating a city ordinance. Police said they had warned him on at least two previous occasions about holding signs in the center median of traffic.
In February, however, a judge dropped the charge against Martin in a court hearing. The judge said it wasn't clear which part of the city's ordinance against human signs was violated.
Rather than re-filing a new charge against Martin, police proposed the new ordinance, which says that no one is allowed to sit, stand, walk in, run in or enter city medians.
According to the ordinance, its purpose is to decrease traffic hazards, nuisances, potential dangers and distractions for pedestrians, drivers and anyone using public right-of-way.
The only exceptions to the ordinance are medians being used for emergencies, for emergency vehicles or being used by maintenance crews and others performing government duties assigned to them in medians.
"We felt people being in our medians is just completely unsafe," said Frisco Police Chief John Bruce.
Bruce says he stands by the actions of the arresting officer, even though the case was dismissed.
"This was never about him holding a sign," said Bruce. "This was not a First Amendment case."
"Just because you make a new law doesn't mean what he was doing was wrong," said Martin's attorney, Mark Meisinger.
Meisinger says the original sign ordinance Martin was accused of violating is too broad, and therefore unconstitutional. He also says the Texas penal code allows for a person to warn motorists of an officer enforcing transportation code.
"They put it in the penal code, so they can't make a law then confuse people," said Meisinger.
Martin can still hold his sign on the side of the road, where it's thought to be less distracting, and says he may just do so.
"I feel pretty obligated to warn people that there is a danger ahead," said Martin. "I will if I need to."
Anyone who violates the ordinance, which is effective immediately, will be required to pay a fine of up to $500. However, Chief Bruce says that in the first few weeks, violators will just be giving a warning as there has to be a public notice of the new ordinance.
KDFW FOX 4
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