Amish Buggy Light Law Violators Go To Jail In April

The Amish here told the judge they prefer jail to paying fines for violating Ohio’s new buggy lighting law. That might seem surprising. But it’s not, if you’ve paid attention to how these things go with Swartzentruber Amish. From Ashland Source:

ASHLAND — A group of eight Amish people refused to pay their fines for their violations of Ohio’s new buggy law in a fines and costs hearing in Ashland Municipal Court on Thursday.

Elmer Hershberger, Mosie Shetler, Andy Swartzentruber, Eli L. Swartzentruber, Henry Swartzentruber, Susan Troyer, Eli J. Yoder, and Levi Yoder all told Judge Fred Oxley that they would not pay their fines because it is against their religious beliefs, opening up the possibility of jail time.

Mosie Shetler, Levi Yoder, and Andy Swartzentruber told Oxley directly that they would prefer jail time over paying the fines.

“I’d rather take the jail,” Swartzentruber said.

Amish appear Thursday in Ashland Municipal Court, Ashland County, Ohio. Image: Ashland Municipal Court

It looks like the Amish can already start making plans for jail in a few months:

He said jail time was a “distinct possibility” for refusing to pay a fine and that the Amish would likely only spend a few days in prison.

After one of the Amish announced his refusal, Oxley told him to be prepared to go to jail on the group’s next court date on April 14 at 1 p.m.

Under Ohio law, people who willingly refuse to pay fines can be imprisoned and earn a $50 credit toward their fines for every day they spend in jail. The majority of the Amish have fines of around $150.

So it appears this story is more or less following the trajectory I’ve been describing, with the blueprint being the 2011 Kentucky Amish SMV emblem controversy.

kentucky amish graves county
A Swartzentruber Amish community in Graves County, Kentucky. Photo: Brett

In that case, at least 18 Amishmen were jailed after also refusing to pay fines for rejecting a mandate to adorn their carriages with the orange SMV safety triangle.

Will the Amish actually end up in jail?

So there is a twist here. Two other Amishmen were also scheduled to appear in court Thursday. However, it looks like they’re off the hook now. It turns out an anonymous person paid their fines, so they did not have to show up.

Will the same thing happen for these other Amish?

Well, I would first ask if that’s what they would want to have happen (assuming there were other good Samaritans willing to pay for them).

Why don’t the Amish just pay their own fines? The reason is that that would be akin to admitting guilt here.

That’s also why I question whether they’d want someone else to do it for them. If I had to guess…they’d never ask anyone to, but might be grateful if others took the initiative to do so.

Getting what they deserve?

Now many people will see these Amish men and women as getting what they deserve for their stance. A lot of comments I’ve read here and elsewhere seem to have little tolerance for this most conservative group of Amish.

I see it differently – yes, the Swartzentruber buggies do suffer from lower visibility. And it would be good to improve the safety of those buggies somehow.

An Amishman is stopped for violating the buggy lighting law. Source: Fox 8

But the method has to be acceptable to the people involved. You can’t just force it on a group, which, if it’s known for anything, is known for its slowness to change (well, I guess you can force it, but then things will predictably get ugly).

However that doesn’t mean complete refusal to change.

I have previously suggested either of two alternatives that would increase visibility and have the added bonus of having actually been accepted in Swartzentruber Amish communities.

Those two are a) expanded reflective material on the rear of the buggy (in the shape of a rectangle or “L”) and b) two short sections of PVC pipe attached to the outer wheel which create an attention-getting, oscillating effect.

Swartzentruber Amish buggy with expanded reflective material and staggered lanterns. North Carolina

In fact, I have heard from someone in Ohio that local Amish have actually taken to using the rectangles now, in what looks like an attempt to offer an alternative as compromise. It’s unknown whether the lawmakers consulted with the Amish on this possibility.

What next?

In the Kentucky SMV case, eventually state law was changed to allow for this plain group’s stance on the matter. But it wasn’t just business as usual after that.

As a compromise, the Amish in question actually adopted buggy enhancements which both improved visibility, and were acceptable to them.

Swartzentruber Amish buggy with minimal reflective markings. Photo: Don Burke

It’s a shame the Ohio lawmakers went ahead with the law in this manner, when there was a widely-publicized example of what would happen from just a decade or so ago. How well do they understand the Amish population they are ostensibly trying to help?

Will the politicians responsible for this Ohio law consider a similar adjustment (like what happened in Kentucky) at this point? Or is Amish-to-jail part of the plan? Maybe that’s just their idea of tough love

I suppose another option is for thousands of Swartzentruber Amish people to “simply” move out of Ohio…

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    1. Kensi Blonde

      don't defend them

      Please don’t defend these idiots. They are putting themselves, their children, other people, other people’s children, and the horses in grave danger. As they have been doing. They can go live outside of America if they don’t want to follow the rules of the country. They aren’t “special.”

      1. Central Virginian

        Not really defending

        The post is offering a solution to the real safety problem, with the unerstanding that these folks have sincerely held religious beliefs that it is wrong to comply with the requirement as it’s imposed on them.

        Name calling is not helpful under any circumstances.

        1. Lily

          Surely both sides can be respected

          As an English woman growing up in the second largest Amish community in the world, I understand fully well that my Amish friends and neighbors take their religious vows seriously and do not wish harm on others. At the same time, trying to drive without hitting the nearly invisible buggies can create serious risks for both Amish and English. Once the Amish decide to use public roads, they should be held accountable just as anyone would for not drinking or speeding. They do have alternatives – such as riding with an English driving service – although moving livestock from one farm to another is another challenge. But as much as I would hope that both parties move towards a solution, I do not agree that they should be allowed to violate the law. Their religious beliefs – as are mine – are protected in many ways, but allowing them to endanger their children and mine should be prevented. It makes me sad to see them go to jail but it is a choice.

          1. Amish and buggy lights

            Lily: Amen!

      2. Jerry


        Why not make vehicle drivers more responsible? In most of these accidents it’s a vehicle driver running into the buggy. Distracted driving, speeding, not being aware of road conditions and dangerous situations not being addressed are often responsible.

        1. Amish buggies

          As an “English” with Amish heritage, I understand both sides of the argument, and hope due respect is given! I’ve witnessed in my travels to or through Amish Country in Ohio, many auto/truck drivers aren’t abiding by the speed limit.
          I believe there should be an automatic alertness to the fact you’re driving in an area where there’s a HIGH possibility you’re going to come upon a horse drawn buggy!
          I witnessed first hand a sports car driver going right up and revving against a buggy, trying to intimidate or scare the driver. They were obviously on their way to church service at someone’s home, as it was early on a Sunday. I rolled my window down when this car passed me, & told the person to stop. They just rolled their eyes & sped off. When the buggy driver passed me, he tipped his hat.
          This buggy HAD reflectors-& those white wheel posts on as well.
          Can we be responsible and respectful drivers, & be aware there will be slower vehicles when we travel the obvious roads they do!

      3. Dolores

        Who is the idiot?

        While I can appreciate the use of lights/reflective material on the buggies, I also am all too aware of the idiotic driving by “English”…especially when they are knowingly driving thru a known Amish community. It’s not rocket science folks! Get your face out of your phone’s, radios and other unnecessary distractions and watch the road!! Anticipate problems and be a defensive driver (yeah, remember that term from driver ed?) Oh wait, many drivers now days NEVER took driver ed.
        This country was founded on religious freedom and and freedom from tyranny. Amish do NOT need to leave this country and ANYONE who feels that is a sulotion may want to learn to keep their narcissistic tendencies in check…you are humiliating yourself!
        I have several Amish friends and I can honestly say they have more honor and integrity in their pinky finger than the average “English” ever dreamt of having as a whole!
        The hatred and bigotry displayed by some of these comments show what disgusting human beings our society is creating.

        1. Nicky

          Who’s the idiots! Exactly

          Thank you Delores for your in site. Religious freedom always seems to be for someone that comes here from another country.
          Never for those of us who live here. All or most of us have lights and horns and all kinds of things to make people notice our vehicles. That is for those of us who keep up our property and fix things when broken or not working, anyway the Amish have very few accidents and it’s alway the fault of some one else doing something wrong. You never hear about a buggy speeding into another buggy driving recklessly and injuring others. It’s always non Amish causing the accident. They are not the problem here.
          And I get that we are trying to keep them from getting hurt but this is all being looked at from the wrong angle. Why is it always put a bandaid on a problem. Start educating people to drive. And make tougher laws on those who drive erratically . How bout that?

      4. Lights on Amish buggies

        A lot of people agree with you but won’t admit it.

      5. I agree

        I agree with you Kensi Blonde well said. Follow the rules and deal with it. You said it all

    2. Central Virginian

      Letter to the Editor?

      Eric, Perhaps a letter to the editor of a local newspaper presenting your thoughts as expressed in the post might be seen by someone in local government, and they might seek to solve the problem in a way acceptable to the Schwarzentruber folks.

      1. Could be a good idea, one I hadn’t thought of. I’ve actually written the legislators already but no response. Doing almost everything online nowadays I kind of forgot about the classic letter to the editor

    3. Slave to the System


      You would think that fines would be preferable to prison, but these strong folks are adhering to principles- unlike the system that constantly imposes new rules and regulations. What happened to protecting individualism in this country? Oh yeah- if you aren’t part of the system, I guess you are against it. Leave them alone and “deal” with a moderately lighted buggy on the road. Live and let live- Lest the oppressors find their own lifestyle “not appropriate” by the system one day.

      1. Buggy lights violations

        Slave to the system:
        Romans 13:1-7
        “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore, whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.”
        Does this count?

    4. Amish Buggy Light Law

      I would think having lights benefit for their safety and should be appreciated especially when could save lives. However if it’s proven against their religion then another solution needs to be addressed. Nice of fines being paid by someone else but will they ignore the law again and again. They need to be careful because the laws can change to band all buggies on the road.
      I would like to know where it states its against their religion. It’s such a small law to protect from death by drivers. I do agree with another comment the law should be enforced by drivers of cars. I don’t know if alternate routes can be taken with cars to avoid the areas where horse and buggy travel. I was wondering if the Amish would agree to paint their buggies with florescent bright color or reflective color so it’s so bright when car lights shine on them. That would help solve not having lights. Would that be against their religion?

      1. Dolores

        Religious beliefs

        Amish do not believe in technological advancements. The (older order) Amish do not use any on-grid electric up to and including battery operated items. It is considered a vanity item which could be a distraction from the service of God. Each community has its own rules (of the level of tolerances of technology) in addition to the traditional Amish vows of religion.
        It seems to me that instead of this judge making threats that violate their freedom of religion, he would try to work WITH the Amish community to find a solution to increase safety and allow them to uphold their religious beliefs….and providing more oad signage to drivers in the area to SLOW DOWN and pay attention would be a nice touch.

        1. Amish buggies and lights

          You are romanticizing the Amish and their predilection for not following laws put in place for everyone’s safety and blaming the English for any accidents caused by the Amish’ refusal to follow a commonsense law. Are there fools on the road? Certainly. There are fools everywhere! English fools can’t be expected to take responsibility for Amish fools. As for the Amish and “freedom of religion”, would you afford that same freedom of religion to non-Christian religions being practiced by American citizens, or does freedom of religion only apply to Christians? This whole “freedom of religion” excuse so many Americans use to justify choosing to obey this or that law is hypocritical. I don’t see God’s hand in this controversy; I see man’s hand in it. Specifically, the Amish man’s hand. If these Amish choose to eschew common sense and stubbornly hold to the notion that it is their religious right to endanger not only their own lives but those of others on the road, then they should take a stand and go to jail for that notion, just as those English who stubbornly believe that it is their right to get drunk and drive and possibly kill someone! Where I live, the Amish use the orange triangle on their buggies and there is a lane built for their buggies on the highway from town to the intersections leading to their country roads. Freedom of religion doesn’t mean that one has the right to endanger another’s life.

          1. Walter Boomsma

            A couple of observations...

            There is far less “religious freedom” in this country than one might suppose. The key concept in the Constitution is the “separation of church and state.” Personally, I wouldn’t base an argument supporting the Amish position on “religious freedom.” Do we want to take several years for issues like this to reach the Supreme Court? Arguing the law doesn’t solve the problem.

            As for “common sense,” that doesn’t make a very good argument either. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan and supporter of the Amish. I don’t “romanticize” them, but I see plenty of evidence that they often have more common sense than the Englisch. When people start using a “common sense” argument, what I see is an attempt to force other people to think the way they do. “I have common sense but you don’t.”

            Frankly, the Amish do a much better job of “living together” (in their communities and districts) than most of the rest of us. I would point out again that they don’t spend much energy and time trying to get us to think and live the way they do. For one thing, they also don’t have only one way. There’s much diversity… and new districts are often formed as a result of not agreeing.

            This thread could be an example of a dysfunctional community. We’re creating win/lose full of judgment, name-calling and accusations to the point where it’s about the argument, not solving a problem. And we wonder why many Amish haven’t adopted technology.

            1. Buggy lights violators

              Mr. Boomsma:
              Not much religious freedom in this country? Have you at any time been prevented from attending the church of your choice? Has one religion been legislated for all Americans to practice? Have churches been shuttered by the government at any time? Evangelical “Christians”, bless their pointy little heads and hypocrisy, keep trying to have one religion legislated, but thank goodness, that has yet to happen. Legislating one religion over another IS unconstitutional. Imposing religion of any kind in public schools is illegal and should remain illegal. That is why we have private schools. If parents want their children to be taught a particular religion, they are free to do so at their expense.
              As for a commonsense argument being used to impose one’s beliefs upon others, that is nonsense! It IS common sense to at least ensure one’s own safety while on the roads.
              You say the Amish don’t use technology. Of course, they do! Not owning computers, telephones, cars, etc. but using someone else’s is still using technology!
              The Amish are no less hypocritical about some things than the non-Amish. It’s a matter of convenience.
              I wonder if you would be as understanding of other religions using freedom of religion to impose their lack of safety measures upon others?

              1. Walter Boomsma

                @Janice, I’m guessing you missed much of what I said and ignored (or missed) my statement “Personally, I wouldn’t base an argument supporting the Amish position on ‘religious freedom.'” Frankly, most of your comment has little to do with what I’ve posted–which is more about problem-solving than “freedom of religion” and the Amish mindset and lifestyle. “Common sense” is an interesting concept… who gets to decide the definition? That’s a rhetorical question.

                1. Buggy lights violators

                  Mr. Boomsma: “There is far less “religious freedom” in this country than one might suppose.” What did I miss or ignore here?

                  “As for “common sense,” that doesn’t make a very good argument either. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan and supporter of the Amish. I don’t “romanticize” them, but I see plenty of evidence that they often have more common sense than the Englisch. When people start using a “common sense” argument, what I see is an attempt to force other people to think the way they do. “I have common sense, but you don’t.”
                  Did I miss/ignore something here as well?

                  Since when is it not common sense to do what is for the good of everyone? The very definition of common sense is the use of “good sense and sound judgment in practical matters.” Motorized vehicles are used by the majority of the population. Horse and buggy are used by a minority. Those using motorized vehicles should be on the lookout for horse and buggy, and those using horse and buggy should be on the lookout for motorized vehicles. If for not for their own safety, then at least for the safety of the horses. It is incumbent upon anyone using public roads in unmotorized vehicles to ensure that they are visible at all times. Some laws don’t make sense, but the law requiring buggies to be adorned with some sort of safety feature, does.

              2. Maureen, New Yprl

                Amish Buggy Light Law Violators

                As usual, Janice Reamer you hit it out of the park. Thank you for articulating my sentiments exactly!.

    5. Al Cantwell

      There are certain rules applicable to all users of the public ways, and no one should be above adhering to those laws, particularly a slow moving, often dark colored horse drawn vehicle. After all, there’s a reason non-motorized vehicles are not allowed on interstates. As far as I’m concerned, safety and welfare of ALL trumps any one particular religious belief. What, should we make some other minority religious group, perhaps the Jehovah’s Witnesses, exempt from displaying license plates on their vehicles. This can get absurd in a hurry. There’s a place for religious liberty but there’s also a place for public safety, and when those clash, we should err on the side of public safety ALWAYS.

      1. Your point is a fair one. My argument is more about finding a solution that can actually be implemented, with the trade-off or cost not being too great to bear for the various groups involved.

        Because after all, the new Ohio flashing buggy light requirement is not the law in every state. In fact, in most it’s not.

        In other words there is not necessarily an “optimal” solution. It’s just one state’s attempt at solving a problem.

        For instance we could have a law where all buggies must be painted banana yellow with purple polka dots, with a spinning pinwheel on top.

        Would probably be more visible and arguably “safer”. But it’s trading off something. And it’s a trade-off that I hazard to say most wouldn’t be willing to make.

      2. Amish lights on buggies

        It would appear that the English, with their desire to romanticize the Amish way of life, have lost common sense! Foolish pride and lack of common sense are not romantic!

    6. Anthony Shope

      Let them move

      I believe the Bible speaks of obeying the laws of the land as long as they don’t conflict with gods law.

      In this case they don’t. I don’t believe for a moment the Amish could withstand a true prison environment. I’m retired FBOP.

      I am pro Amish 4 year driver, and am recently married to an Amish women who had joined the church. Long story there and allot of heart ache and animosity.

      The Amish must understand and obey our laws or seek to change them. If I were the judge in this case, I would have informed the men they couldn’t handle prison, and told them you’re going to pay the fine whether you want to or not.

      Then I would have give them a pay by or we seize and sell your buggy date.

      There’s only 50 states and a few territorial let them move from them all. Won’t happen, there simply stomping their feet and pounding their hands like a toddler.

    7. Jail is not Prison

      Pardon me for my hang up about the meaning of different words.
      The words jail and prison are not interchangeable.
      Jails are local places where people are placed upon being arrested until they go to trial or until they bond out awaiting trial. Jails hold people sentenced to a period of time that’s usually under a year. State & federal prisons are where people are sent when their sentence is a year or longer, which generally means for a felony crime, but sometimes multiple misdemeanors.
      I’ve never ever heard of anyone being sentenced to a couple of days in prison.
      By the way, if you get stopped for speeding, I wouldn’t worry about going to jail. Speeding is an infraction, a violation of the law, but not an arrestable offense. So, as you correctly pointed out in your essay, the Amish who have been ticketed for not using a slow moving vehicle sign or proper lights, would only be fined, not jailed. And, as you said, refusing to pay the fine is why they might have to go to jail.
      Love your articles! Jim

      1. Great point and thanks for noting it! I have adjusted the text/title. Just to note the second article excerpt makes the same error and that remains unchanged

    8. Ann ehrmantraut

      Buggy light.

      These people are living in a different time when there were no cars, or good roads do drive on,This is an unchristian attitude of them.

    9. John at the Falls

      Amish have no concern for other parties in an accident.

      The Amish seem to think this only about them.

      The Amish have zero regard to non Amish parties involved in an accident that they cause. The Amish feel that God controls their fate and it is OK if they die by obeying rules of the church. But they do not consider the burden they put upon the person in the car that hit them. No one wants to be responsible or part of someones death even if they were not to blame. The court would also probably put some responsibility on the driver of the car regardless of circumstances.That there is a burden for ones life.

      Most of these accidents only involve two parties and that has only been luck. What if last minute avoidance causes the car to swerve into the oncoming lane causing a fatal head on collision. Those deaths would be fully upon the Amish.

      There should be no legal compromise here for requiring the Amish to meet safety standards.

      I thought Jesus said that the Law was made to sere man and not for Man to serve the Law. Then there is the part where Jesus said to render unto Caesar what is Caesars. The Amish are just being legalistic weasels here.

      The Amish should be free to practice their religion as they please up until it interferes with my right to a safe road which is made that way by following safety standards.

      1. Lily

        Amish DO care about others

        While I have stated that the Amish should not be allowed to violate the law, it seems to me that you don’t know the Amish at all. I suggest you read the history of the massacre of Nickle Mines to see how kindly they treated the widow of the man who killed several little Amish children. I live in Knox County (next to Holmes) where our local judge is struggling with how to handle this issue currently. It is sad for both English and Amish. A solution must be found so that these public roads are safer for everyone, but castigating the Amish as a whole is not fair, as I have found them to be some of the most decent people I’ve ever met. I agree with the writer who wrote that Jacob and Jesus both walked. And certainly we can find an alternative – such as lowering speed limits more in Amish communities, and finding another acceptable way for the Amish to mark their buggies, that would show consideration from both sides. After 50 years of driving around the Amish, I confess I am still scared of hitting a buggy after dusk because the black buggies, unlit, are nearly impossible to see.

    10. Joe Donnermeyer

      Greater Holmes County

      Greetings — I was in the Greater Holmes County, OH community on Tuesday, with my research at the Ohio Amish Library. OAL is part of the Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center near Berlin. Two observations. First, traveling to and from OAL to my home in Columbus, I passed 17 buggies, of which 16 had a flashing light (it seems like all were red and LED), with only one clearly Swartzentruber buggy that added a large rectangle with reflective material on the back, left side. Second, no matter how visible buggies are now when compared to the past, it is remains quite easy, especially on back winding roads and roads that seem more like a roller coaster at an amusement park, to come up fast on buggies, especially is one is fussing with a cell phone or the driver is not paying attention in some other way or simply going too fast. The ultimate solution will be with drivers of cars and trucks. Lighting on buggies will only go far as a safety solution.

    11. oshea

      Count the number of complaints about the Amish buggy light issue in this comment section and you’ll find that the complainers are the types who cannot even drive their vehicles without fumbling with their smartphones and radios every minute or so. Paying full and undistracted attention to the road is an inconvenience to them. So, obviously it must be the fault of a few buggies not having buggy lights.

    12. Leana A Mari

      This won't end well

      So now they are coming for the Amish….

      I have been seeing a pattern with the authorities going after them. Just can’t leave them alone I guess. It reminds me of that writing by Niemoller during the Holocaust…

      “First they came for the ‘whatsoevers’…. but I did not protest because I was not a ‘whatsoever’ ” and it goes on like that using different people types to fill in the blank until the last line…
      “then at last they came for me, but there was no one left to defend me.”

    13. J.O.B.

      The fine is $150. And the Amish who are jailed get a $50 credit towards the fine for each day they spend in jail?

      It’s more expensive for the gov’t to jail and feed them for 3 days.

      I hear both sides of the argument. I understand some people use the government as a tool to push the Amish towards assimilation to the rest of the population or to take advantage of them for various reasons.

      I hear the safety concerns many people talk about. But before you are critical of the Amish, how many of you speed? Use the cell phone while driving? Drove drunk? Ran stop signs/red lights? And on and on??? Check yourself before pointing the finger at others.

      I also hear and see how many Amish are slowly assimilating into the general population. Small steps like this may not seem like much at all. But, in the long run, this is part of the elimination of the be seperate of this world and not of it.

      Again, little moves/laws like this can slowly chip away at this.

      I bring this up because today, I saw Amish gamble by buying lottery tickets for the $billion dollar lotto tonight. These were the baptized members of the church and not the younger crowd.

    14. Paula

      Buggy Laws

      Erik, Delores, Jim & J.O.B…I agree with all of you.

      A solution I have thought about for a long time (& I think Erik brought this up once) would be the creation of “Buvgy Laned” in densely populates areas. Here in NY, the state created “bike lanes” EVERYWHERE. I can’t imagine what that cost the state. So why can’t there be Buggy Lanes in these heavily populated Amish areas? I am very disappointed in the leaders of Ohio, a state that I grew up in. This is not necessary. But…I also say that these Amish SHOULD make their statement by going to jail. Let it be a big media deal. Then maybe there will be more conversation about solution.

      1. Dolores

        Bike lanes

        Michigan has put bike lanes in many areas also, and yet many cyclists xontinue to ride 2 and 3 abreast and block traffic lanes. (I lived on a favored bike route that was also the route for Michigan’s DalMac for many years) However they do not seem to think the Amish communities deserve the same consideration. A few years ago a local Amish family lost 3 of their 5 children when their buggy was hit by a driver from behind. A 4th child suffered severe injuries, but survived.
        Laws on the books in many states still state that horse/horse and buggy have the right of way. In our modern world we seem to forget that.
        I’m all for buggy lanes!

    15. Walter Boomsma

      A couple of thoughts...

      One issue that’s not addressed in the comments is defining the issue. I see a parallel to the school issue some decades ago. Some Amish went to jail. Perhaps the “good samaritans” in this case should donate to a legal defense fund instead of paying the fines.

      The judge in this case must follow the law. That would suggest the law is the issue. Or are the lights the issue?

      (Leap) We’ve had two houses run into in the last several months within five miles of here. In one, the car ended up in the living room next to the recliner. The driver backed out and drove off. As far as I know, no one has yet suggested installing blinking links on homes.

      (Leap) In Maine, a law has defined “criminal speeding.” It is a crime and you can go to jail. It’s debatable whether or not it has reduced speeding.

      (Leap) In Maine, we also have a law against using handheld devices while driving. It’s pretty much unenforced. On one recent trip, I estimate that 75% of the drivers around me were on the phone or texting. One also had his dog sitting in his lap at the same time. If we are going to solve problems by passing feel-good laws, who gets to decide whether or not those laws are enforced?

      Personally, I would think the legislature could find more important things to do than worry about lights (or whatever) on buggies. But if it’s that big an issue, why not work on a solution instead of passing an arbitrary law? It’s called “negotiation” (with some understanding and tolerance stirred in) and, as several commenters have noted, that approach has been successful in other areas.

      Maybe the issue is “Can we figure out how to live together?”

      1. Frederick Seaborne

        Walter Boomsma has lots of good points

        @Walter Boomsma Yes, I agree with you, Dude — I am a fellow “Maineiac”, as well, and I, too, have a lot of respect for the Amish folks in northern Aroostook County. They graciously allowed me to tent-visit their community and fellowship with them for many weeks in 2003. I was going through a jaded-nerves period at the time, and their kindly gentle simple friendliness and welcoming demeanor really helped calm me down overall and have a more cheerful outlook on life. We could all learn a lot from them.

    16. Frederick Seaborne

      Reflectors and compromise are indeed the best for all concerned

      I agree with Erik and the other commenters who said that reflectors and compromise are the fairest way to go here.
      This all just proves once and for all that God is an unfeeling scoundrel who doesn’t deserve our prayers or respect. If He truly cared about us or valued people’s obeying His directives (such as not being too worldly, as is mentioned here), He would see to it that we were protected from punishment or other harm when we do as He directs us to do. So He would not have allowed these Amish people to be forced to serve jail time or pay fines for obeying His word.
      It’s just like when my old man beat me one time for refusing to disobey him per someone else’s orders. He’d habitually been very cruel and hostile towards me, and so I’d always known “deep down” that he was no good, but he had usually been fairly careful up to that point not to do anything so blatantly obvious as being wrong that I could use it as proof that he had an evil heart. But then he did that horridly-incorrect thing, and it proved without a doubt that indeed he did not have a moral soul. That’s what’s happened here — by God’s forsaking those poor Amish men, He proved that He does not love or care about us, after all. Only a truly-evil leader would treat his subjects like that.

      1. Dolores

        Don't blame God

        God has not forsaken the Amish here. Mankind has created untold numbers of situations that impose laws that override covenants of others beliefs. The only thing God may have to do with this is giving these Amish the strength to stand up for their religious customs and beliefs. Sometimes God tests our faith and perhaps this is one of those times for these fine folk…but I doubt that also.
        I can say with great confidence that, while those that had their fines paid are appreciative, they also feel they are ready and fully capable of standing up for what they believe is an intrusion on their religious customs and beliefs.
        I can understand that the judge feels he has to uphold the law…but at the same time, he should also be respectful for their constitutional rights of religious freedom.
        Yes, a compromise is needed. And I can only hope that this community and it’s lawmakers are willing to reach an agreeable compromise…but this is NOT an abandonment by God. God will always deserve my praise.

      2. Central Virginian

        Sounds like your Dad was out of line and you suffered at his hands. Sorry that happened to you. You might consider that maybe your Dad didn’t act like God wants him to. Your Dad had free well to choose how to act, whatever his reasons. You can choose to act differently and treat others well.

      3. Dolores

        Don't blame God

        Frederick Seaborne, I would also like to comment that God did not abandon you when your father abused you any more than God abandoned me during a period of my life with an abusive fiance. Sometimes evil does get a foothold, but, in my case at any rate, I was able to find the strength to stand up against my attacker. I had suffered 3 broken ribs and a fractured C1 in my neck. I was able to leave, I am able to face that same attacker and he is well aware of the strength God gave me against him. I have forgiven him, but he is well aware that he would never dare to attempt to hurt me again. God has put me through many trials; that does not mean He does not love me…He has made me strong.
        Having faith should never be conditional.
        I am truly sorry you have suffered at the hands of your dad…but God did not abandon you. He got you thru it, it is up to you now to grow from that experience or let it control and destroy you. Don’t let it keep destroying you.

        1. Frederick Seaborne

          You have a right to your own (foolish, in my opinion) view. But God did not “get me through” my old man’s abuse — He abandoned me, and I had to handle the situation “unacceptably”: I had to actually threaten to kill my father before he wised up even a little, and even now, decades after he died of natural causes, I have to keep urinating on his grave to keep him from terrifyingly haunting me in my sleep. Ugly!

    17. Carol Roman


      If the Ohio law was the best solution it would be law in every other state as well. Since other states/areas have other requirements why can’t any of these be considered? (Lancaster born)

    18. Wes

      Buggies are a relatively new item of their history

      Originaly, Amish in the Alsace or in other places in Europe and then in earliest America did not have buggies like even the modern Swartzentruber’s do. They simply walked. Unfortunately, we no longer move our nation at the speed of a horse. It simply is unsafe for all and even dangerous to be moving at 12 to 15 mph on back winding roads where cars and trucks are moving at 45 or more mph. They say they believe in peace and nonresistance but the testimony is mared when one group says that it is ok for someone to die because I simply believe in God’s providence and protection of our life. But people die because of bad choices. Very few Amish would want to say God lets the “English” die because of us and that’s ok.
      If they are faithful to all their beliefs and traditions, they should rather be willing to give up the buggy and walk. Jakob Ammann had no buggy – he walked. Jesus had no buggy – he walked.
      And “Ya. Ich kann deitsh shvetza au!

      1. Ya. Ich kann deitsh shvetza au!

        Sehr gut!

      2. Dolores

        Wes, I find many folks on here are looking for ways to blame the Amish for their beliefs and for the “perceived” intrusion on English life. I must ask?…Are you willing to walk? Why is it the Amish should give in to OUR ridiculousness of entitlement just because we find their nose of transportation “dangerous” and “bothersome”.
        When I ride my horse along the road, I expect drivers to be paying attention to the road, not their phones, not their radios or any other distraction. Driving IS a privilege, NOT a right. So let’s stop comparing Apple’s to oranges and stick with the matter at hand…RELIGIOUS FREEDOM is a part of our Constitution and an aspect of the Amish belief system in using horse and buggy.
        I see nothing but self-centered English ideology in the majority of these comments. Again, what a pathetic, conceited society we have become.

        1. Paula


          And…have you ever seen a bike in the bike lane that a zillion $$$ was spent on? Me…NEVER.
          Here’s another idea…reflective lane markers (like IN the road) could be utilized. It would give SOME semblance of visibility to drivers.
          It really seems to me that the state is not discussing any creative solutions here & just want to make a humiliating example out of the Amish.

    19. Maureen, New York

      Amish Buggy Law



      I have driven Amish buggies, been a passenger in Amish buggies, and driven in a car where Amish buggies frequent for many years. Lilly said, “…trying to drive without hitting the nearly invisible buggies can create serious risks for both Amish and English.” THIS STATEMENT IS CORRECT.

      Amish Buggies here are all dark colored in these two plain communities. You simply cannot see them past dusk unless you are almost on top of them. There is also no convincing these plain Amish communities to take any precautions. This allows both Amish and English to be in jeopardy. I understand some English drive recklessly, and I understand Amish teens race their buggies. Not the issue.

      These laws or suggestions are an attempts to aid the law-abiding drivers of both buggies and cars to help each other keep safe when following the speed limit and being otherwise good defensive drivers. Again, even with bright-lights on a car/truck, you cannot see these buggies virtually on any road – country back roads or highway driving past dusk. A DRIVER oftentimes CANNOT SEE THEM!

      What is being said is that everyone is entitled to their religious beliefs, but not at the safety of all drivers. Driving is a privilege. However, the Amish do say they will fight this and go to jail if need be!



    21. Tony Shope


      Delores I’ve read all your comments. You are very opinionated and inaccurate. I live in Buchanan County Iowa. An Old Order Amish community is here as of last time I paid attention 20 + churches.

      1. They have lights on their buggies. Not all of them but most.
      2. The community is filled with carpenters, furniture makers, and contractors. Most use power equipment on job sites. Many own generators not all of them.
      3. There are many organic farmers even egg farming and goats milk n cheese these operations take refrigeration and constant power. Generators.

      So please quit telling us how the Old Order Amish are.

      All Amish are people and it is insulting to lump them into one mindless group. They are just like all people and have individualism.

      I drove them for four year and married an Amish lady. I have many friends in the Amish community. As with all people assume nothing.

      1. Buggy lights violators

        Most of the Amish in my community use the orange triangle. I have seen some buggies that do not use any form of safety measure. Foolish pride cometh before a fall.

        1. Frederick Seaborne

          Well, the Amish feel like they are obeying the bible by not installing the safety equipment. Just shows how God speaks out of both sides of His mouth — He expects us to obey His word, yet He doesn’t protect us if men want to punish us for obeying Him. God’s a jerk!

    22. Tony Shope


      Dolores I spelled your name wrong above sorry.

    23. Ann ehrmantraut

      Buggy light violators

      The roads were build for mostly for cars, cars that go much faster than horse and buggy. If I rode a bike in the dark, with dark clothing and no lights of any kind I would be a fool. Same for buggies with family and children in a dark buggy. If they don,t want to obey the light law then stay home..englishers follow the law.

      1. Buggy lights violators

        Based on some of the comments, it is apparent that so-called “religious freedom” is more of a concern to some than their community’s safety! I fail to see any correlation between religious freedom and the refusal of safety measures, and I doubt that God approves of their foolishness.

        1. Frederick Seaborne

          This just shows how religion really screws people up. We should all get our heads out of the bible and just start living practically and sensibly.