Flicking Headlights To Warn About Police Is Okay, New Bill Clarifies

One transportation attorney says it's a matter of free speech

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    NEWSLETTERS

    It is not unheard of for drivers to pass a speed trap, then flash their headlights to warn oncoming vehicles. Florida driver Bob Reese thinks that?s okay. (Published Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012)

    Flicking your headlights on and off is not against the law, and Gov. Rick Scott may sign a bill clarifying that point.

    It is not unheard of for drivers to pass a speed trap, then flash their headlights to warn oncoming vehicles. Florida driver Bob Reese thinks that’s okay.

    “I have done it several times,” he says, “to let them know that you are going to get a ticket if you don’t slow down.”

    On the final day of its 2012 session, the Legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill that says drivers can flash their headlights to other drivers, even if they are doing so to warn them that police officers are nearby.

    Installing an illegal flashing light on your vehicle is against the law, but flashing your headlights is not.

    Communicating via flashing headlights is a matter of free speech, transportation attorney Michael Kaufman said.

    Some officers, he said, just don't like drivers foiling police speed traps.

    “They didn't want this to occur and they're going to find a way to keep it from happening,” he said. “That's not what the police are there for – the police are there to enforce the laws that are on the books.”

    Ticketed drivers have sued at least two law enforcement agencies in Florida, and in response to one of the lawsuits, the Florida Highway Patrol told its troopers to stop ticketing drivers who use headlights to warn others on the road.