Is giving 'the finger' illegal?

Sgt. Chris Yagelski

Q: My wife is handicapped. We are elderly. We were at Walmart trying to turn into a handicapped spot in the front when some jerk turned right in front of us, almost causing us to hit him. I had a few choice things to say as I “flipped him off!” My wife was scared and said if the police saw me doing this they could pull me over and I could get in trouble for giving the “finger.” Is this true?

A: Sorry this happened to you and, no, you can’t get in trouble. While giving anyone the “finger” is arguably crude and has caused many a fight, it is protected freedom of expression under the First Amendment of the Constitution. Just be careful not to provoke a fight with your reactions.

Q: My wife and I recently visited your town and went walking down by the pier taking pictures on one of those “not so cold” winter days. After we got back to the car, I think I lost one of my lenses somewhere. We walked all over but we couldn’t find it anywhere. Does the Park Department or the Michigan City Police have a “lost and found?”

A: All found or turned in property is taken into evidence by our officers. Our Detective Division makes every effort to contact the owner if known, and possible. Any found property not related to a crime is held for a 30-day period, then after this time the department will dispose of the property if the owner hasn’t been established or is unreachable. I encourage everyone who loses something of value to make a police report of lost property then we have means to contact you if found. 

Q: I work at a local restaurant and I feel I am a very good employee. Unfortunately business is very slow right now. The owner says he is going to layoff some employees but is going to pick and choose who he wants to keep, but of course one of them is his niece! I have bills to pay and I have been there the longest. Doesn’t he have to go by seniority? Is this legal?

A: Yes, it is legal, and seniority does not always count. Indiana is considered an “employment at-will” state. This means that Indiana employers may hire, fire, promote, demote, layoff, suspend, and set their own work hours and policies at their discretion. This may be done if there is no contract of collective bargaining agreement and the business does not discriminate against employees because of their age, sex, race, religion, national origin or disability.

Q: My parents rent a car from Michigan City for a week at a time to go visit my sister down in Tennessee. My question is, I am 18 years old and licensed, so can I legally drive it when they are not using it?

A: If the rental car company is operating in a manner that most do, the answer is, “no.” Only authorized drivers may operate the vehicle. Most rental companies charge extra for additional drivers or have a minimum age of 21. Rental contracts usually spell this out.

The winner of last column’s riddle sponsored by our friends at Sophia’s Restaurant in Michigan City was Becky Wantland of Michigan City. Last column’s riddle of what was so unusual about the paragraph? It was that the entire paragraph contained no letter “E,” which is the most frequently used letter in the English alphabet!

The sponsor of this week’s riddle is my friends at Root Funeral Home in Michigan City. The winner receives a $30 gas card!

On Friday morning the 8th of March, a blind man drives up to a blue house, he gets out of his car and walks slowly down the sidewalk through the snow to the front door with a package and rings the bell. The homeowner takes the package and gives the blind man a check. The blind man then returns to his car and drives away. What was in the package?

The 12th correct answer by phone or email at exactly 1 p.m. today wins.

To answer a question or ask one, contact Sgt. Chris Yagelski at 873-1461, Ext. #1020, or e-mail

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