Go Back  The Hull Truth - Boating and Fishing Forum > BOATING FORUMS > Dockside Chat
Reload this Page >

Is flashing your headlights to warn of speed traps illegal or free speech?

Notices

Is flashing your headlights to warn of speed traps illegal or free speech?

Old 08-27-2011, 10:46 AM
  #1  
Senior MemberCaptains Club Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: East Central Florida
Posts: 7,278
Default Is flashing your headlights to warn of speed traps illegal or free speech?

I agree that it is a free speech right and that the ticket was invalid:

**********************************************
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/...,7228474.story

Is flashing your headlights illegal or a free speech issue?

By Rene Stutzman, Orlando Sentinel
9:57 PM EDT, August 26, 2011


SANFORD — Alexis Cason was on her way to school one morning when she spotted two Oviedo police officers on the side of the road. She flashed her headlights to warn other drivers about the speed trap ahead. Moments later, another cop pulled her over and wrote her a ticket, saying she'd just broken the law by flashing her lights.

Law, she asked, what law?

Cason, 22, challenged the ticket and won. A lawsuit filed this week claims that 2,900 motorists were ticketed illegally — in Florida for the same thing from 2005 to 2010.

An Oviedo law firm — the same one that persuaded a Seminole County judge to toss Cason's ticket — is asking a judge in Tallahassee to bar Florida cops from writing tickets when motorists flash their headlights.

There is no Florida law that prohibits light-flashing, said Oviedo attorney J. Marcus Jones.He claims officers are simply twisting a law that was designed to prohibit drivers from adding after-market emergency lights to their vehicles.

When officers write those tickets, he said,they violate a driver's constitutional right to free speech. If motorists want to flash their lights to warn about a speed trap ahead, they are free to do so, according to his suit.

The suit, filed Wednesday, asks Circuit Judge James O. Shelfer in Tallahassee to certify the case as a classaction on behalf of every motorist in Florida who was ticketed for that offense from 2005 to 2010.

It alsoasks Shelfer to issue an injunction, banning all Florida cops from writing those tickets, to reimburse drivers for the fines they've paid and to rule that officers are misapplying a law about add-on emergency lights.

The state has not yetresponded to the suit.

"We don't comment on any pending lawsuit that we're involved in," said Capt. Mark Welch of the Florida Highway Patrol.

The lead plaintiff is Erich Campbell, 38, a Tampa-area man who was ticketed two years ago by a state trooper.

"At $100, nobody challenges these nonmoving violations," he said. "It's a principle thing to me."

He did some research and discovered that Cason had successfully fought back, so he hired the same law firm and, he, too, got a judge to toss the ticket.

According to the suit, "There was no legitimate basis for pulling over Campbell's vehicle and detaining him and his passengers when they had committed no cognizable offense."

Cops who write those tickets, according to the suit, engage in behavior that is "illegal, wrongful and unconstitutional." They subject motorists to unwarranted seizures — the money they must pay in traffic fines — the suit alleges.

Theyalso are guilty of racketeering, the suit alleges, "an ongoing enterprise … (of) theft, misuse of office and extortion," according to the suit.

Authorities should have taken note six years ago when Seminole County Judge Donald Marblestone threw out Cason's ticket, declaring the statute has nothing to do with a driver using his headlights to warn about police activity, the suit alleges.

The FHP and the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles could not say how many tickets Florida cops write each year for that offense.

Jones' law firm has challenged five headlight-flashing tickets in five Florida counties in the past six years and prevailed each time, according to the suit. Those include Seminole, Osceola, Hillsborough, Escambia and St. Lucie counties.

Jones hopes to win again soon in Seminole.

Two weeks ago his firm filed a similar suit — but smaller in scope — in state Circuit Court in Sanford. It alleges that the Seminole County Sheriff's Office violated the free speech rights of Ryan Kintner, a 25-year-old Lake Mary man, when a deputy discovered him using his headlights to tip off neighbors about a speed trap near his home.

"I felt an injustice was being done," Kintner said. "I have nothing against officers … keeping speeding down, but when you cross a line and get into free speech, I feel it's gone too far."

His suit asks Circuit Judge Alan Dickey to order the Seminole County Sheriff's Office to stop writing those tickets.

Seminole deputies will keep on writing them as long as the statute is in effect, according to Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Kim Cannaday.

rstutzman@tribune.com or 407-650-6394.

Copyright © 2011, Orlando Sentinel
**********************************************
Seacat FL is offline  
Old 08-27-2011, 10:58 AM
  #2  
Admirals Club Admiral's Club Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Florida
Posts: 16,516
Default

I was just going to post this same story! I LOVE THIS TYPE OF STUFF!!!

Not only is it free speech, but here's a spin on the whole thing:

"HEY! I wasn't flashing to let you know about the trap... I was letting you know to use care because there is a hardworking law enforcement officer on the side of the road, so please drive safe"

What would the answer be then?

-- Anyway, I hope they give all the money back like they should. IMHO.
OldPete is offline  
Old 08-27-2011, 11:02 AM
  #3  
Senior MemberCaptains Club Member
 
Garett's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 24,083
Default

Well they will certainly hand them out this way for flashing on coming traffic!
Garett is offline  
Old 08-27-2011, 11:12 AM
  #4  
Senior MemberCaptains Club Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location:
Posts: 3,389
Default

Not sure here in MD. When I was in HS I knew a friends *grandmother* who was given the third degree because she did this. She needed a lawyer, they were really going after her. I forget if it was a huge fine or revoked licence or what but I recall thinking "wtf??" at the time.
DrJim is offline  
Old 08-27-2011, 11:17 AM
  #5  
Senior MemberCaptains Club Member
THT sponsor
 
Schmaltz~Herring's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Cruising Lake Titikacka On My 18' Bayliner Element With 60 HP Optimax's
Posts: 17,178
Default

Interesting, in GA they would probably be charged with misdemeanor obstruction and arrested for flashing headlights.
Schmaltz~Herring is offline  
Old 08-27-2011, 11:32 AM
  #6  
Senior MemberCaptains Club MemberPLEDGER
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Central Jersey
Posts: 7,961
Default

Originally Posted by Schmaltz~Herring View Post
Interesting, in GA they would probably be charged with misdemeanor obstruction and arrested for flashing headlights.
In GA, it would probably depend on other stuff.
t3rockhall is offline  
Old 08-27-2011, 11:56 AM
  #7  
Senior MemberCaptains Club Member
THT sponsor
 
Schmaltz~Herring's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Cruising Lake Titikacka On My 18' Bayliner Element With 60 HP Optimax's
Posts: 17,178
Default

Originally Posted by t3rockhall View Post
In GA, it would probably depend on other stuff.

What other 'stuff' would that be???
Schmaltz~Herring is offline  
Old 08-27-2011, 12:17 PM
  #8  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Juneau, AK
Posts: 196
Default

I agree that the motorist absolutely has the right to warn other motorists of speed traps, especially if there isn't even a law prohibiting it. And if the goal of speed enforcement is to reduce the speed in an area then isn't that accomplished when the person slows down because of the warning.

Of course speed traps rarely have anything to do with actual safety... So on one hand they are used mostly for revenue generation. On the other hand, if they didn't get money from speeders they would be getting it through increased taxes, so they may as well get it from people that are making the roads more dangerous.

Either way, I rarely go over the limit anymore so I usually don't even keep an eye out for traps anymore.
ak_j is offline  
Old 08-27-2011, 12:18 PM
  #9  
Senior MemberCaptains Club MemberPLEDGER
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Not in Texas
Posts: 10,213
Default

Originally Posted by OldPete View Post

Not only is it free speech, but here's a spin on the whole thing:

"HEY! I wasn't flashing to let you know about the trap... I was letting you know to use care because there is a hardworking law enforcement officer on the side of the road, so please drive safe"

What would the answer be then?

I don't know. In some jurisdictions it is not lawful to warn others of where police are working, e.g. speed traps and sobriety check points, or anything else. Don't know if you could make their safe a reason to tell others.

There used to an iPhone app that showed real time sobriety check points but 2 or 3 law enforcement agencies asked, and iApple complied and removed the app. I guess the app is available for 'droid phones.

So, I guess I can tell you verbally, or by electronics device, but not with my light bulbs?
Eyeball is offline  
Old 08-27-2011, 12:32 PM
  #10  
Senior MemberCaptains Club Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Posts: 8,782
Default

Well, I can't speak for other states, but here in sunny CA, drivers that flash their high-beams (the easiest way to flash lights in most vehicles), are cited for operating their high beams within 300 feet of an oncoming vehicle. Nothing about freedom of speech can reverse that...



We have an infamous road called Vasco Rd that has been designated a "safety corridor" and headlights are required while driving during the daylight hours.

The CHP shoots radar heavily throughout Vasco. Regulars of the road know to flash their high beams (their headlights are already on) at oncoming traffic to warn them of what lies ahead. They are routinely cited for that practice... (CHP can be sly little buggers! )


Now, if a driver is on a roadway that doesn't require headlights during the day and flashes them to warn other motorists of an upcoming radar unit, that would not be a violation of our vehicle code and they wouldn't be cited.


As a side note, back in the late 70's, one of our motor units consistently shot radar in a particular residential district that was posted 25. He was VERY successful at it. One person that was cited three times made it his mission to alert other drivers of the use of radar. When he saw the motor unit working the area, he would legally park his vehicle ahead of the unit and hung a large sign that read, "Speed trap- radar ahead!".

He made the headlines of our local paper. He was not cited or arrested for practicing his freedom of speech...


Oh, BTW, our radar guys won't cite for less than 15 over...
ABoater is offline  
Old 08-27-2011, 12:42 PM
  #11  
Senior MemberCaptains Club Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Posts: 8,782
Default

Do other states have a definition of "speed trap"?

The way it is thrown around here on THT, you'd think that anywhere an officer scratches out a cite more than once would be called a "speed trap". Not so...

A speed trap in our books has to do with the posted speed limit changing numerous times within a specific distance. Unless an officer is within that (illegal) speed zone, it has nothing to do with where an officer decides to park and shoot radar.

We call that a "duck pond"!


Or for the PC crowd out there, "selective enforcement"...


And we don't have "quota's". We have "performance objectives", just like most people do at their non law-enforcement jobs...
ABoater is offline  
Old 08-27-2011, 12:44 PM
  #12  
Senior MemberCaptains Club MemberPLEDGER
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Not in Texas
Posts: 10,213
Default

ABoater -- Lately I'm seeing a lot of CHP parked on the shoulder of 880 using radar. I thought LEOs could not park unlawfully when using radar -- they should be on the ramps, not the freeway?!?
Eyeball is offline  
Old 08-27-2011, 12:49 PM
  #13  
Senior MemberCaptains Club Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Posts: 8,782
Default

Originally Posted by Eyeball View Post
ABoater -- Lately I'm seeing a lot of CHP parked on the shoulder of 880 using radar. I thought LEOs could not park unlawfully when using radar -- they should be on the ramps, not the freeway?!?









Yeah, I see that too! And I HATE IT!!! I see them on 880 in San Lorenzo and on 580 thru Livermore all of the time.

I'll have to check into that. I was very vocal (against it) back when they were given the green light to shoot radar on the freeway anyway. I don't think it's the best idea. But hey, I'm not that high on the pay scale to have a say in the matter...

At least with the recently introduced Lidar units, an officer can point out a SPECIFIC vehicle that is speeding rather than pick on the leader of the pack!
ABoater is offline  
Old 08-27-2011, 01:04 PM
  #14  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Clark's Hill Lake, & Savannah Ga
Posts: 728
Default

An 18 wheeler passed me and I flicked my lights to let him know he had room to get back in our lane. A cop pulled me over and accused me of warning traffic of an upcoming road block. I didn't get a ticket but he claimed that he could have given one.
To this day I don't warn people of anything.
ryan g is offline  
Old 08-27-2011, 01:52 PM
  #15  
Senior MemberCaptains Club Member
 
240 LTS's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Upper Chesapeake Bay
Posts: 20,654
Default

With other crimes, isn't there typically some type of physical evidence of the crime?
Drugs, assault, DWI, DUI, speeding (caught on a radar gun), etc...
I don't know, I'm asking the LEO's.
Unless the flashing of the lights is caught on camera, where is the evidence?
Does there need to be physical evidence?

Is evidence not needed and just the word of the LEO enough?

How does anyone know the drivers "Intent" or how can anyone say why the driver may have flashed the lights and what they were thinking at that time?
An assumption is not fact. There is reasonable doubt......Yes?.....No?

--------

To expand on something (maybe) similar, what about this situation.

There is a meter maid (or anyone) working their way down the sidewalk writing tickets to cars parked at expired meters. Someone goes over, and drops some coins in expired meters before the ticket writer gets to the car(s).

Is that a crime or a good Samaritan doing their good deed for the day?

Is it only a crime IF the meter maid SEE's the "good deed" being done?

We did this and got into a discussion with the ticket writer. They didn't like it at all.




.


.
240 LTS is offline  
Old 08-27-2011, 02:14 PM
  #16  
Senior MemberCaptains Club Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Posts: 8,782
Default

Hi Jeff, I hope all is well with the current weather situation.

Most vehicle code violations are infractions.

The courts recognize an officer's testimony about a moving violation as justifiable proof that the violation occured. It is your right to appeal to the traffic comissioner and question the officer that issued the citation to you. The TC can then "be the judge" and determine your fate...


On that same note, more and more agencies are requiring that their meter maids take digital pics showing the expired meter or expired parking receipt so that just in case a cite gets contested, they have the proof that they need.

I can't speak for others, but our agency accepts the acts of good samaritans...
ABoater is offline  
Old 08-27-2011, 02:16 PM
  #17  
Admirals Club Admiral's Club Member
THT sponsor
Marine Advertiser
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 21,567
Default

If the intend of writing speeding ticket is to reduce speeding then having a motorist warn of a speed trap ahead serves the same purpose.

When a motorist is warned..he normally slows down.


Cops should be happy they are being helped to reduce speeding in their area...lol!

Last edited by semperfifishing; 08-27-2011 at 03:22 PM.
semperfifishing is offline  
Old 08-27-2011, 02:19 PM
  #18  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: North Coast of America
Posts: 7,106
Default

Some interesting info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headlight_flashing
osudaddy is offline  
Old 08-27-2011, 02:21 PM
  #19  
Admirals Club Admiral's Club Member
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: West Palm Beach
Posts: 830
Default

I doo it every chance I get,fuck them for hiding,always hope someone looses control and runs them over.....
thecubanfishy is offline  
Old 08-27-2011, 02:23 PM
  #20  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: louisville Ky
Posts: 2,390
Default

Either way, I will be lead foot!
dahlbebop is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread