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Is flashing headlights to warn of a speed trap protected by the First Amendment?
Kansas City Star ^ | February 4, 2014 | ROBERT PATRICK

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 judge’s 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 Autrey’s preliminary injunction says that Michael J. Elli would likely prevail in a free speech lawsuit against Ellisville, Mo. Autrey’s 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 Elli’s 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 ...


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: flashingheadlights; speedtraps
It is not about safety, it's about revenue. Patrol cars motto's should read: "To stop and to ticket"
1 posted on 02/04/2014 7:17:57 AM PST by Second Amendment First
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To: Second Amendment First

“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.”


2 posted on 02/04/2014 7:18:55 AM PST by Pearls Before Swine
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To: Second Amendment First

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.


3 posted on 02/04/2014 7:21:47 AM PST by mountainlion (Live well for those that did not make it back.)
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To: Second Amendment First

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.


4 posted on 02/04/2014 7:22:31 AM PST by cincinnati65
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To: Pearls Before Swine

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.


5 posted on 02/04/2014 7:24:38 AM PST by Cletus.D.Yokel (Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Alterations: The acronym defines the science.)
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To: Second Amendment First

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.


6 posted on 02/04/2014 7:24:40 AM PST by pgkdan
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To: Pearls Before Swine
“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.”

That's exactly what I would say.But I would add "I wasn't even aware of any speed trap".

7 posted on 02/04/2014 7:24:48 AM PST by Gay State Conservative (Osama Obama Care: A Religion That Will Have You On Your Knees!)
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To: Second Amendment First

If flashing lights to warn of a speed trap is impermissible then CBs might as well be outlawed as well.


8 posted on 02/04/2014 7:24:52 AM PST by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: Second Amendment First
. . . detaining, ticketing or arresting someone for the content of their speech is illegal.

The law allows for exceptions. Try telling flipping the bird at a cop, or telling a judge to KYA.

9 posted on 02/04/2014 7:26:05 AM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: martin_fierro
If flashing lights to warn of a speed trap is impermissible then CBs might as well be outlawed as well.

Heh! I remember the CB back then being the only place one could socialize.
The young kids I work with probably have never heard of them.
10 posted on 02/04/2014 7:28:07 AM PST by RandallFlagg ("I said I never had much use for one. Never said I didn't know how to use it." --Quigley)
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To: Second Amendment First
It is not about safety, it's about revenue. Patrol cars motto's should read: “To stop and to ticket”.

How bout “To stop and ticket and kill your dog”

11 posted on 02/04/2014 7:28:39 AM PST by Vaquero (Don't pick a fight with an old guy. If he is too old to fight, he'll just kill you.)
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To: Second Amendment First
Is flashing headlights to warn of a speed trap protected by the First Amendment?

It's definitely legal in Florida.

12 posted on 02/04/2014 7:28:45 AM PST by Bushbacker1 (Molon Labe! (Oathkeeper))
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To: Second Amendment First

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?


13 posted on 02/04/2014 7:34:09 AM PST by OrangeHoof (2001-208: "Dissent Is Patriotism!" 2009-2016: "Dissent Is Racism!")
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To: Second Amendment First

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.


14 posted on 02/04/2014 7:35:10 AM PST by Qwackertoo (Going into Politic Free Zone Momma Grizzly hibernation for a while after this week, maybe forever.)
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To: Second Amendment First

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. :-)


15 posted on 02/04/2014 7:43:01 AM PST by Georgia Girl 2 (The only purpose of a pistol is to fight your way back to the rifle you should never have dropped.)
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To: Second Amendment First

Is flashing headlights to warn of a speed trap protected by the First Amendment? Short answer: YES.


16 posted on 02/04/2014 7:43:16 AM PST by lakecumberlandvet (Appeasement never works.)
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To: Second Amendment First

I’ll put this in my “cases that are likely to tie-up the entire Federal Court System for the next thirteen years” file.


17 posted on 02/04/2014 7:45:55 AM PST by Buckeye McFrog
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To: Second Amendment First

Of course it is. This is getting stupid beyond the dumbness of idiocy...


18 posted on 02/04/2014 7:47:06 AM PST by Dead Corpse (I will not comply.)
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To: Fester Chugabrew

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.


19 posted on 02/04/2014 7:48:20 AM PST by RinaseaofDs
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To: Second Amendment First

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.


20 posted on 02/04/2014 7:50:32 AM PST by Brooklyn Attitude (Things are only going to get worse.)
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To: RandallFlagg

” 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”


21 posted on 02/04/2014 7:51:15 AM PST by Jewbacca (The residents of Iroquois territory may not determine whether Jews may live in Jerusalem)
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To: Pearls Before Swine
“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 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.

22 posted on 02/04/2014 7:58:47 AM PST by rawhide
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To: Pearls Before Swine
“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 have done so for speed traps but I also flash my headlights when I see deer around or crossing the road.

23 posted on 02/04/2014 7:59:27 AM PST by OldMissileer
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To: Pearls Before Swine
“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.”

Ayup. Prove me wrong.

24 posted on 02/04/2014 8:02:28 AM PST by IYAS9YAS (Has anyone seen my tagline? It was here yesterday. I seem to have misplaced it.)
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To: Second Amendment First

I use the free nav app WAZE to warn other WAZERS of cops, traffic, objects, even gas prices


25 posted on 02/04/2014 8:05:20 AM PST by sickoflibs (Obama : 'Any path to US citizenship for illegals HERE is a special path to it ')
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To: Fester Chugabrew
Try telling flipping the bird at a cop, or telling a judge to KYA.

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.

26 posted on 02/04/2014 8:05:59 AM PST by IYAS9YAS (Has anyone seen my tagline? It was here yesterday. I seem to have misplaced it.)
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To: IYAS9YAS

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.


27 posted on 02/04/2014 8:10:14 AM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: Second Amendment First
Maybe you should just give a panic signal instead.


28 posted on 02/04/2014 8:12:17 AM PST by dfwgator
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To: Second Amendment First
U.S. District Judge Henry Autrey’s preliminary injunction says that Michael J. Elli would likely prevail in a free speech lawsuit against Ellisville, Mo. Autrey’s 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.”

That's not what I'm saying when I flash my headlights at oncoming traffic, Your Honor. I'm telling my fellow motorists that they will soon be approaching emergency vehicles (the police cruiser) up ahead and that they should exercise caution while in the area.

Safety first, Your Honor.
29 posted on 02/04/2014 8:28:45 AM PST by Milton Miteybad (I am Jim Thompson. {Really.})
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To: Pearls Before Swine

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?


30 posted on 02/04/2014 8:29:34 AM PST by servantboy777
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To: Second Amendment First

Isn’t there an app that tells you where police cars are located?


31 posted on 02/04/2014 8:38:24 AM PST by longtermmemmory (VOTE! http://www.senate.gov and http://www.house.gov)
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To: servantboy777

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.

CC


32 posted on 02/04/2014 9:02:34 AM PST by Celtic Conservative (tease not the dragon for thou art crunchy when roasted and taste good with ketchup)
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To: Second Amendment First

Once upon a time police cars had a consistent black-and-white paint job, markings on the doors, special license plates, and bubbles on top. The police made it a point to stand out from the crowd so that when help was needed, it was easy to spot those who "serve and protect". Now ... not so much. They ride in "unmarked" cars and hide in alleys with the lights off. Why? Simple. Serving and protecting now plays second fiddle to the tax-without-a-tax revenue stream they generate. Folks flash their lights to help others avoid the tax. More power to them. Nobody is going to flash their lights to warn an idiot driving 100mph in school zone. We'd all be pleased to see that idiot's license revoked. But I'd have no qualms about flashing my headlights to remind the casual driver that might be a couple miles per over the limit to mind his speedometer.


33 posted on 02/04/2014 9:16:52 AM PST by so_real ( "The Congress of the United States recommends and approves the Holy Bible for use in all schools.")
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To: rawhide
He told me that a criminal might be on the loose and I just notified him of a police present up ahead.

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.

34 posted on 02/04/2014 9:19:57 AM PST by jiggyboy (Ten percent of poll respondents are either lying or insane)
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To: Brooklyn Attitude

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. ;^)


35 posted on 02/04/2014 9:21:27 AM PST by SZonian (Throwing our allegiances to political parties in the long run gave away our liberty.)
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To: Milton Miteybad
Your Honor. I'm telling my fellow motorists that they will soon be approaching emergency vehicles (the police cruiser) up ahead and that they should exercise caution while in the area.

Beautiful! I'm writing that on the top of the inside of my windshield.

36 posted on 02/04/2014 9:21:56 AM PST by jiggyboy (Ten percent of poll respondents are either lying or insane)
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To: Second Amendment First

Hmm, I think, “To fleece and to beat” is more accurate.


37 posted on 02/04/2014 9:38:39 AM PST by pierrem15 (Claudius: "Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out.")
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To: Brooklyn Attitude
Since this will cost me over $300 I now use my radar detector whenever I’m driving.

Illegal in how many states now?

38 posted on 02/04/2014 9:53:08 AM PST by JimRed (Excise the cancer before it kills us; feed & water the Tree of Liberty! TERM LIMITS NOW & FOREVER!)
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To: JimRed

Illegal in VA, DC, and in NY for vehicles over 18,000 pounds.


39 posted on 02/04/2014 9:58:03 AM PST by JimRed (Excise the cancer before it kills us; feed & water the Tree of Liberty! TERM LIMITS NOW & FOREVER!)
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To: Fester Chugabrew
Okay. Give it a try next time you’re around a cop. He won’t do anything.

Never said he wouldn't do anything. Just stated that case law supported it as protected speech.

40 posted on 02/04/2014 9:59:05 AM PST by IYAS9YAS (Has anyone seen my tagline? It was here yesterday. I seem to have misplaced it.)
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To: IYAS9YAS

Yep. Understood. Thanks.


41 posted on 02/04/2014 10:00:50 AM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: Fester Chugabrew
Yep. Understood. Thanks.

De Soto

No, that's not right.

Grenada

Nope, not that either.

De Nada...

There we go. I knew 2nd grade Spanish would pay off sometime.

42 posted on 02/04/2014 10:09:45 AM PST by IYAS9YAS (Has anyone seen my tagline? It was here yesterday. I seem to have misplaced it.)
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To: Second Amendment First

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.


43 posted on 02/04/2014 10:15:33 AM PST by FLAMING DEATH (I'm not racist - I hate Biden too!)
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To: longtermmemmory
Isn’t there an app that tells you where police cars are located?

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.

44 posted on 02/04/2014 11:40:01 AM PST by Charles Martel (Endeavor to persevere...)
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To: FLAMING DEATH
In my state, it isn’t illegal per se, but it is against the law to high-beam the oncoming traffic.

You can't flash to tell an oncoming car to dim their lights?

45 posted on 02/04/2014 11:52:51 AM PST by Starstruck (If my reply offends, you probably don't understand sarcasm or criticism...or do.)
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To: Starstruck

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.


46 posted on 02/04/2014 2:14:45 PM PST by FLAMING DEATH (I'm not racist - I hate Biden too!)
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To: Cletus.D.Yokel

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.


47 posted on 02/04/2014 10:22:23 PM PST by goat granny (.)
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To: Charles Martel

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.


48 posted on 02/05/2014 7:52:24 AM PST by longtermmemmory (VOTE! http://www.senate.gov and http://www.house.gov)
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To: longtermmemmory
Oh, the police certainly did object, but Trapster is definitely still active. They've even got it ported to the Blackberry now. Escort's networked radar dectors use Trapster data.

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.

49 posted on 02/05/2014 8:59:56 AM PST by Charles Martel (Endeavor to persevere...)
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