Skip to comments.Judge rules flashing headlights is free speech in Oregon case
Posted on 04/11/2014 7:15:04 AM PDT by relictele
Hauling a truckload of logs to a Southern Oregon mill last fall, Chris Hill noticed a sheriff's deputy behind him and flashed his lights to warn a UPS driver coming the other way.
The deputy pulled over Hill on U.S. Highway 140 in White City and handed him a $260 ticket for improperly using his headlights, saying another deputy had seen the flashing lights from behind the UPS truck and alerted him to stop the log truck because of the signaling.
Outraged, Hill decided to fight the ticket, and on Wednesday, a Jackson County Justice Court judge dismissed the citation, finding that motorists flashing their headlights amounts to speech protected by the Oregon Constitution.
Judge Joseph Carter determined the law covering the use of high beams was valid, but was unconstitutional as it was applied by the deputy.
"The citation was clearly given to punish the Defendant for that expression," the judge wrote. "The government certainly can and should enforce the traffic laws for the safety of all drivers on the road. However, the government cannot enforce the traffic laws, or any other laws, to punish drivers for their expressive conduct."
(Excerpt) Read more at foxnews.com ...
Despite denials of quotas, directives, etc. it's clear that revenue collection is the priority of so-called law enforcement and that giving a badge to a person with a preexisting condition i.e. a Napoleon complex is a recipe for trouble. The red mist descends when they realize their presence is being announced and they issue trumped-up citations.
To debate the legality of such an action is to miss the point; what are laws regarding such an action doing on the books in the first place and why do police feel justified in looking for so-called infractions?
As usual, in their zeal to collar so-called lawbreakers, they unwittingly expose the 'safety' canard. After all, why is law enforcement upset that citizens are encouraging strict compliance with too-low speed limits (don't get me started) and other traffic laws?
Lol, I bet the police love that judge now.
How dare you inform others about the police being present!
Would the judge rule it free speech if I flew the bird in the courtroom?
It’s a lot easier (and safer) to take down middle class traffic violators than gangsta drug sellers and violent offenders.
Sort of like the FBI here in Indiana sending legions of agents to take down a 90 yr old historical collector living in the boondocks.
Just to check, around my area (the Deep South), it’s 3 headlight flashes to warn of a police check-point/speed trap/etc. Is that the same as everyone else’s system?
Unfortunately, in Yankeeland and elsewhere they suffer from the usual dearth of manners i.e. flashes are all too rare.
In the South the light-flashers are quite reliable, although in the bigger cities where, ahem, interstate migration has occurred the light-flashing standard has slipped badly.
I also recommend the Waze app for smartphones. GPS/Navigation, traffic conditions/reporting by users including road hazards, weather, accidents and....Johnny Law.
From the courts right down to the local police we are finding insanity.
Highway Patrol in Florida pulled this same crap several years ago. The judge wound up throwing that out too.
The traffic is relatively light on this stretch of interstate. Meanwhile, sections of I-81 and I-95 are heavily traveled and everyone speeds a lot more. If they don't, they become road kill.
My Garmin GPS actually has a built in radar detector. I'm supposed to disable the feature when I drive in Virginia. It's all about making life easier for the highway robbers who hide behind a badge and a "Smokey the Bear" hat.
high beam flash is outdated now,
i have a smartphone app (waze) that tells me where all the nearby police, traffic jams, hazards are.
all information are updated by people around me.
Seeking to collect taxes from otherwise law-abiding motorists is much safer than pursuing dangerous weapon-wielding bad guys.
Yes, well familiar with the stretch of hell known as the 66 miles of I-77 through VA. Bland County Sheriff et al. Bland, per its name, must have zero crime as 100% of cops are on the interstate 100% of the time.
A cousin of mine was relieved of his radar detector. No ticket, but they have a detector detector!
As before, Waze is indispensable and perfectly legal, much to the chagrin of cops.
How can the police PROVE that it was a warning to other drivers?
Oh wait, it they say so it must be so - GUILTY.
LOL. Send this one up to the Supreme Court and see if it falls within Breyer’s “the First Amendment only protects speech that improves the democratic process” rubric.
A friend of mine, got an alert on his pager than his warehouse security system had gone off. He asked me to ride with him to check it out. His warehouse was in the industrial park, we came down the dark street and there was a car driving slow near his warehouse, without headlights. He flashed his high beams and the car came alive with blue and red lights. It was a unmarked cop car and they tried to give him a ticket for flashing his lights at them. I say tried because we had a Texas Ranger riding with us and he told them he said to flash our lights, because they looked suspicious driving without lights.
The entire purpose of traffic enforcement is to get people to OBEY the speed limits. If this is what flashing headlights does, isn’t the goal the same as that of the police?
You’re doing LEO work without being unionized and sanactioned by the state and that’s prohibited.
Flashing headlights to warn oncoming traffic of a speed trap deprives the force and the municipality, county or state of revenue. What you state is the original purpose of traffic enforcement. The actual, present purpose has devolved somewhat. It's just money now.
Out on the left coast it is only one flash most of the time, although 2 or 3 is possible. Bottom line is that one is enough, more is just icing on the cake.
Bet you can’t alert others in less than a second.
I understand that; I’m just pointing out the illogic of condemning the practice.
” Is that the same as everyone elses system?
Recently, here in the SF East Bay, I came upon a county dump truck parked along side of a road well-known as a CHP radar speed trap. Just as I was passing, a hastily drawn up “cardboard sign” came out of the driver’s window which said “Cop with Radar Ahead.” Evidently the driver was having his lunch and performing a public service at the same time. Wonder if that was “free speech” too?
This isn't just to notify oncoming drivers of a cop, either. It's used to warn of any hazard .....in my neck of the woods it's used more to warn people of deer or loose livestock in the road.
I once got stopped in Utah by a state trooper there because he was coming at me with his hi-beams on. So naturally I flashed up to get the “other driver” dim down and this prick stopped me and wrote me a ticket! Then he made me follow him to next weigh station and pay the $125 fine!
Then I got stopped traveling down Lolo Pass. This is a very winding highway and more deer than you can shake a stick at. Anyway there was another car coming up the pass and when we would come around the curves we would both have our hi-beams on and see each other and dim down and then flip them back on when we lost sight of each other. This on for about a few curves until we passed each other. On the last time I dimmed down one of my low beams burned out and then the other car turned out to be an Idaho trooper and he turned around and lit me up so I pulled over. He told me my low beam was out and I told him that I had a problem with light and how it was constantly doing that so much so that I kept a couple of spares behind the seat and even showed that.
Then he said that it had been working each time I dimmed down but the last time he seen it burn out. So he wrote me a $25 ticket and said I had 15 days to pay it. I told him that I only had another 50 miles to go before I got into Washington and that I’ll never pay the ticket. He went in his way and so did and I never paid that one!
With the attitude today, that was in the mid 80’s, I probably would have been shot for attempted murder of a cop by driving unsafe in their presence and endangering their lives!
Any word on the collector?
You could very well be taken out of court and put in jail for contempt of court, depending on the judge.
I had that very thing happen to a peson near and dear to my heart.The jude went on a tirade, and when finished, asked what that person thought of what the Judge had just said in the tirade.
He responded to the judge- "I think your a ****ing asshole, that's what I think".
Contempt of court and right out of the courtroom and off to jail.
He called and told me where he parked the car near the courthouse, so I could go get it, and bring it home.
Because of his stubbornness he was incarcerated for 90 days. Yes 90 days.
And when you go and retrieve a prisoner , they run an outstanding warrant check before releasing prisoners and if even a traffic ticket warrant is involved they are not getting out.
There are limits to free speech. And judges will tell you what they are. - Tom
With the court's decision overturning ticketing those drivers, cops will have to resort to just shooting people... Oh, wait.
They're already doing that.
I especially enjoy it when these judges refer to the courtroom as their courtroom — “In my courtroom, ..... “ It’s not their courtroom. It’s the people’s courtroom.
A lot of these clowns have no regard for the laws. It’s just their mood or how they feel on issues. And far to many are extremist liberals — trial lawyers.
its ok, both judges and cops hate jurrors who know about jury nullification.
Every state where a proporsed jury instruction about nullification has been presented, the judges shot it down.
Today, they would simple have your license suspended in the state you are from for non-payment. Then, the next time you are stopped or try to renew your license, voila!. “Sir, this license is suspended...”
They’ll get their money.
I am just waiting for the hack app that will just tell you where all the cops are located.
I was on my way to work yesterday on a long two lane stretch. Three cars flashed their lights at me and I though it was odd because they literally NEVER run radar here. But I slowed down. Good thing. Over a hill the entire road was blocked by fire trucks handling a hay fire on a trailer.
Revenue. He even saw that you had a good light and while on the road it went out. What a jerk.
Meanwhile, where I live I blew through a stop sign at night trying to beat an approaching car. The car was a cop. Sure, he lit me up but we are both adults and know that what I did, though technically illegal, was not the least bit dangerous.
He gave me a “friendly” verbal warning with a wink and I was on my way.
It’s one reason I love it here. In my 42 years driving in the Seattle area I learned to watch for radar copes every second I was driving. I still got pulled over a couple of times a year and averaged about 2 tickets every three years. I’ve been in KY for almost three years now and that was the only time I ever got stopped by a cop. My driving record is squeaky clean for the first time in a LONG time.
Anytime I see headlights flashing, I slow down. I generally don’t mind the stated speed limits, but what I don’t know is whether or not there is danger of some sort, ahead.
The warning could be police ahead, or icy roads, or large puddles, an oil slick, an accident...And I appreciate those warnings. They’ve saved my hide in situations where I could have been injured if I’d not been warned.
Some of these cops have a stick up their butts with a fragile ego the size of Texas, and the toughness of a soap bubble. Gigantic egos tell me a LOT about people.
In some states you tap your foot in the stall of a public bathroom - just give it a shot
The warning could be police ahead...