Federal Judge Rules Drivers Allowed To Flash Headlights To Warn Of Speed Traps

 

 

 

 

” A federal judge in Missouri ruled this week held that drivers have a First Amendment right to flash their headlights to warn other motorists of nearby police and speed traps. 

  The order by U.S. District Judge Henry E. Autrey in St. Louis on Monday stems from a lawsuit filed by Ellisville resident Michael Elli. In 2012, Elli flashed his headlights to warn oncoming vehicles of a radar set up by police in the town of Ellisville.

  A flash of headlights is a common way motorists communicate to oncoming drivers of either a dangerous situation or the presence of police — in essence, a warning to slow down. 

  An officer saw the flash and pulled over Elli, who could have faced a fine of up to $1,000 if convicted. Elli, was accused of “[f]lashing lights on certain vehicles . . . warning of RADAR ahead,” according to court papers obtained by The Wall Street Journal.

  At a hearing on the lawsuit last year, Ellisville officials made the case that flashing headlights could interfere with a police investigation. But Autrey said in his ruling that the flashing of headlights “sends a message to bring one’s driving in conformity with the law — whether it be by slowing down, turning on one’s own headlamps at dusk or in the rain, or proceeding with caution.” “