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.
” remember the CB back then being the only place one could socialize. The young kids I work with probably have never heard of them.”
CB radios are now called “Facebook”
I gave the state patrol that excuse a few months ago. He told me that a criminal might be on the loose and I just notified him of a police present up ahead. He also told me the next time he catches me doing this that he would give me a ticket for inoperative headlights. I just kept me mouth shut and he let me go on my way.
I have done so for speed traps but I also flash my headlights when I see deer around or crossing the road.
Ayup. Prove me wrong.
I use the free nav app WAZE to warn other WAZERS of cops, traffic, objects, even gas prices
The first is: http://www.deathandtaxesmag.com/193157/federal-judge-rules-flipping-off-cops-is-legal-lawyer-calls-it-a-civil-rights-victory/. The second, I'm not sure of.
Okay. Give it a try next time you’re around a cop. He won’t do anything. Other limits on speech include slander and perjury. My point is that free speech has its legal limits.
The cops gotta right to stop folks, folks gotta right to flash their lights to warn other drivers to slow down.
I do it and will continue to do it. They penalize me for it, well so be it.
Some rules are made to be broken. Abortions legal...don’t make it right...right?
Isn’t there an app that tells you where police cars are located?
I do it all the time and I am a cop. When I’m working I want people to comply with the law. If flashing your highbeams gets compliance, then cool.
Good one. I wonder how long they sat around the barracks to come up with that. That said, it fails the reasonableness test on its face, never mind that he would be forced to admit on the stand that he knew that there were no criminals on the loose, and if there were, he would also know that it'd be all over the radio.
For every year you were speeding and didn’t get caught, you should have just put $10 in a jar...it seems like you’re getting your money’s worth. ;^)
Beautiful! I'm writing that on the top of the inside of my windshield.
Hmm, I think, “To fleece and to beat” is more accurate.
Illegal in how many states now?
Illegal in VA, DC, and in NY for vehicles over 18,000 pounds.
Never said he wouldn't do anything. Just stated that case law supported it as protected speech.
Yep. Understood. Thanks.
No, that's not right.
Nope, not that either.
There we go. I knew 2nd grade Spanish would pay off sometime.
In my state, it isn’t illegal per se, but it is against the law to high-beam the oncoming traffic. That’s how they get ya.
Solution...make sure your lights are on low beam, and flick the switch a few times.
At night, unless you’re willing to turn your lights OFF for a split second (probably also illegal), you’re SOL.
There are several, actually. Trapster is the one that's been around the longest. It has a lot of interactivity, with other users providing near real-time updates to radar trap locations.
For those who would rather not use their phones for this purpose, some of the high-end radar detectors are able to link together using a similar network.
You can't flash to tell an oncoming car to dim their lights?
You’re not supposed to. Of course, I’ve never seen that one enforced except for once, when a guy flashed his high beams at an oncoming motorist that was highbeaming him. The motorist wouldn’t dim his lights, so he hit his high beams a second time. Motorist still wouldn’t dim his lights, so the guy just switched to high beam like the other motorist.
Then, the blue lights came on atop the other motorist’s car. Don’t remember if the guy was cited or not, but he was definitely warned not to do it in the future.
Actually, I read a little and it is illegal to have them on in my state within 500 feet of an oncoming car.
I do it anyway when someone high beams me, though, and in case of road hazard or emergency vehicles.
Years back we had a CD in the car on channel 19, so did a majority of travelers. If there was a cop car on the road, it was breaker break, bear at mile marker (what ever) If another car was traveling with you, you dialed to another channel for private conversations.
I thought apps like trapster were taken offline because police objected.
Also relying on other people is not as reliable as using the police’s own vehicle lojacks.
IIRC, the cops were trying to negate Trapster's effectiveness by making false speed trap reports. Trapster countered by adding a "confirmation" feature, allowing users to either confirm an active speed trap or report it as false or inactive. Works well enough to tick the cops off.