It is easy to get frustrated if you’re pulled over, especially if you know you’ve done something wrong.
- Would you swear at the checkout operator? Hotel receptionist? No? Then don’t swear at a cop!
- You could be fined if your conduct is considered offensive
- Remember – police are just doing their job
But if you want to curse at anyone, swear at yourself – not the police officer who pulled you over – unless you want to get in even more trouble with the law.
What you consider to be swearing and what others might be offended by may well be two different things altogether, but LY Lawyers states that a court case in 1951 set the path for swearing laws in Australia, and it isn’t just naughty four-letter words that may get you in strife.
Anything that may be considered “violent, threatening, disorderly or insulting language” that is used to cause “anger, outrage, disgust or resentment in an ordinary and reasonable person from amongst the members of our community” could be considered offensive behaviour. Further, “conduct which offends against the standards of good taste or good manners” has also been considered part of the rule book in Australian courts.
So telling the officer who just booked you that they’re an effing c-bomb might well see you get in a bit more trouble than the fine and demerit points you were originally in line for.
CarExpert spoke with a NSW Police officer who said that by swearing at an officer you are “not doing yourself any favours”, and that, on a technicality, you could be charged with an offence, especially if your foul language can be heard in a public place and/or by members of the public.
If you swear at a cop, then, you could receive an on-the-spot fine, or even be arrested and taken to a police station. If that happens, you may end up in court, and – worst case scenario – end up imprisoned for as long as six months.
That would clearly be a situation that you’d have to work hard to find yourself in, but just note that per the Summary Offences Act, a public place could include locations like streets, recreation areas, and publicly funded buildings. And really, really make sure you don’t lose your cool in front of a school, as they are considered ‘no tolerance’ zones.
Fines range up to $1250, depending on the state (South Australia is the harshest!), while in Victoria or Queensland there are penalties up to six months jail time.
In short, then – do yourself a f##king favour – don’t curse at a cop.