Horace knew he was in a traffic jam because he could see pedestrians whizzing by him.

And, to avoid driving a possible two miles an hour, he decided to turn into a side street despite a big old sign that specifically read "NO LEFT TURNS."

The result?

While Horace was able to beat the congestion, he was unable to beat a motorcycle cop, who flagged him down and gave him a ticket for failing to obey the traffic sign.

A stickler for details, in court, Horace came up with what he considered the perfect defense.

He pointed out to the judge: "In this state, the law specifically requires that a sign regulating a left-hand turn be rectangular in shape and on a green background." Since the sign had the wrong shape and the wrong colors, it was about as valid as a $5 bill with Abe Lincoln's eyes crossed.

"Shape is important only if you are looking at Marilyn Monroe," responded the prosecuting attorney. "In this case, Horace knew darn well what the traffic sign meant. It meant that if he made a left-hand turn into that side street, he would be violating the law and he would get a ticket for doing so.

IF YOU WERE THE JUDGE ...

Would you convict Horace of ignoring the unequivocal traffic sign?

THIS IS HOW THE JUDGE RULED ...

NO!

The judge held that traffic signs must be designed to comply with the law, otherwise they are not binding.

While the sign Horace was ticketed for violating may have been clear and specific, concluded the judge, it was also unlawfully designed in shape and color and therefore, could not be the basis upon which to convict Horace.

Based on a 1966 Minnesota Supreme Court decision.

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