Skip to comments.Is flashing headlights to warn of a speed trap protected by the First Amendment?
Posted on 02/04/2014 7:17:57 AM PST by Second Amendment First
ST. LOUIS The American Civil Liberties Union is hoping that a federal judges ruling Monday that temporarily barred a Missouri city from punishing drivers for using their headlights to warn others of speed traps will itself serve as a warning to other cities who try to do the same.
ACLU Legal Director Tony Rothert said Monday that it was the first federal court ruling on the issue anywhere in the country. It is legal in Missouri to communicate in this manner, he said, and detaining, ticketing or arresting someone for the content of their speech is illegal.
U.S. District Judge Henry Autreys preliminary injunction says that Michael J. Elli would likely prevail in a free speech lawsuit against Ellisville, Mo. Autreys ruling says that the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to believe that Plaintiff had violated any law and that it is not illegal to warn drivers because a speed trap is ahead.
The ACLU sued on behalf of Elli and other drivers last year, saying that drivers using their headlights to communicate about a speed trap or another reason to proceed with caution are protected by the First Amendment.
Rothert said that after Ellis suit, they heard from drivers that other jurisdictions in Missouri and Illinois were also ticketing drivers for warning of speed traps, although the Post-Dispatch could not confirm current ordinances or enforcement actions with any of the named jurisdictions Monday afternoon.
(Excerpt) Read more at kansascity.com ...
“I wasn’t flashing to warn of a speed trap. I flashed my lights to warn the oncoming car to slow down—for safety’s sake.”
I see lots of flashing light going to town. People are warning of Bighorn Sheep by the road eating the salt put down to melt the snow. Protect the sheep.
If it’s not about the revenue, then why would the police/city care if someone flashes their lights in an effort to get others to slow down (presumably to near the speed limit), in order to avoid a ticket? They’re helping to maintain the posted speed limit on the streets.
I do it all the time in rural areas.
A slow moving farm-truck with a load of hay/straw can be a danger on the 2-lanes...especially for the TR/TR/TR that need that extra time and istance to brake safely.
Now that no-one is using CB radio anymore, headlamps are the way to signal and keep others safe.
If the purpose of writing speeding tickets is to enhance public safety on the roads, as the police always say it is, then they should be happy to have citizens warning each other to slow down. If not then their public safety spiels are born out to be the lies that we’ve always known they are. Traffic police are revenue agents, plain and simple.
That's exactly what I would say.But I would add "I wasn't even aware of any speed trap".
If flashing lights to warn of a speed trap is impermissible then CBs might as well be outlawed as well.
The law allows for exceptions. Try telling flipping the bird at a cop, or telling a judge to KYA.
How bout “To stop and ticket and kill your dog”
It's definitely legal in Florida.
I flash my headlights all the time to tell people they have one or both headlights out. I have no idea if there is a speed trap around. Are they not reading my intent if I flash my headlights at a particular time that I am near a speed trap when it could be I am just reminding a driver to turn theirs on or that they have one out?
I did it once about midnight on the road from Possum Kingdom Lake back to Fort Worth . . . it was a policeman who turned around and pulled us over . . .said you can’t do that . . . well duh we were trying to warn oncoming traffic there was a whole herd of black cows on a pitch dark black highway and hoping they’d slow down before hitting them . . . he said oops that is where I was heading and let us go. This was before onslaught of cell phones.
I have had my butt saved from speed traps a couple of times by truckers flashing their lights at me. In my younger sports car years of course. :-)
Is flashing headlights to warn of a speed trap protected by the First Amendment? Short answer: YES.
I’ll put this in my “cases that are likely to tie-up the entire Federal Court System for the next thirteen years” file.
Of course it is. This is getting stupid beyond the dumbness of idiocy...
I think you can flip a police officer off, but the later, in a courtroom, would be contempt of court.
Out in the world, you can flip a judge off without a problem, I would think.
Got nailed w my first speeding ticket in 0ver 30 years so I would have appreciated some warning. Since this will cost me over $300 I now use my radar detector whenever I’m driving.