For as long as cars have had headlights, motorists have used them to warn other motorists of law enforcement activity such as speed traps.
And law enforcement officers have been retaliating against motorists for flashing their high beams for just as long.
Thankfully, both federal and state courts have agreed that flashing high beams is a form of communication and the activity is protected by the First Amendment as free speech.
In a 2014 civil rights case, a federal judge in Missouri ruled that drivers have a First Amendment right to flash their headlights to warn other motorists of nearby police and speed traps.
In a 2012 case, Florida Circuit Judge Alan Dickey stated the following about a man named Kitner who flashed his high beams to warn of a police speed trap:
“Kintner was protected by his constitutional right to free speech under the First Amendment.
If the goal of the traffic law is to promote safety and not to raise revenue, then why wouldn’t we want everyone who sees a law enforcement officer with a radar gun in his hand, blinking his lights to slow down all those other cars?
I have nothing against officers,
But when you cross a line and get into free speech, I feel it’s gone too far.”
Despite long standing precedent, some cops are still violating people’s civil rights.
On Tuesday, I was flashing my high beams to warn other motorist of police activity ahead when I was stopped by Officer N.L. Williams of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
Williams then issued me a citation for allegedly violating Florida Statute 316.2397(7).
But it’s Obvious that Officer Williams hasn’t actually read Florida Statute 316.2397 (7) because it states the following:
(7) Flashing lights are prohibited on vehicles except:
(b) When a motorist intermittently flashes his or her vehicle’s headlamps at an oncoming vehicle notwithstanding the motorist’s intent for doing so
I will be seeing you in court Officer Williams.