Judge: flashing headlights to warn of speed trap is protected speech

by Walter Olson on May 24, 2012

Florida cops have made a practice of ticketing drivers who warn others about speed traps by flashing their lights, despite uncertainty as to whether state law actually does prohibit such flashing. Now a judge in Sanford, Fla. has ruled that Ryan Kintner of Lake Mary not only was within his rights under state law when he flashed his headlights, but was engaging in speech protected by the First Amendment. [More, Jalopnik, Volokh; Orlando Sentinel] (& welcome Above the Law, Reason, Cato at Liberty, Amy Alkon readers)

{ 2 trackbacks }

Judge: Flashing Headlights To Warn of Speed Trap Is Protected Speech | Cato @ Liberty
05.24.12 at 11:04 am
Flashing Headlights to Warn About Speed Traps Is Protected Speech, Sez Judge | Libertarios of America
05.24.12 at 2:13 pm


1 marco73 05.24.12 at 9:07 am

Knowing how Florida cops operate, I’d be very surprised if Mr. Kintner doesn’t find himself on the receiving end of tickets for “improper lane change”, “following too close”, and “burned out tail light.”
What, you didn’t expect the cops to just roll over and let some citizen show them up.

2 captnhal 05.24.12 at 9:48 am

I’m not surprised at the ruling. Why would it be legal for the cop to let a driver off with a warning and not for a fellow motorist to do the same? The police seem to rarely issue a ticket when the driver getting pulled over also turns out to be a cop.



3 Roy B 05.24.12 at 10:07 am

A number of years ago a court in CT made the same type of ruling regarding flashing lights. I remember that the flashing of headlights was considered to actually contribute to drivers obeying the law and therefore could not be considered an offence.

4 bruce 05.24.12 at 11:09 am

or, a hammer to the headlight followed by a “burned out headlight” ticket.

5 Malcolm Smith 05.24.12 at 10:14 pm

Does anyone suggest that this was what the writers of the First Amendment had in mind?

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