Federal judge rules drivers allowed to flash headlights to warn of speed traps

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ST. LOUIS — A federal judge in St. Louis this week ruled that drivers have a First Amendment right to flash their headlights to warn oncoming vehicles about police speed traps ahead, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The ruling, issued by U.S. District Judge Henry E. Autrey, comes following charges filed against Ellisville, Mo., resident Michael Elli.

In 2012, Elli flashed his headlights to warn an oncoming driver about a speed trap and a police officer saw him do it. Elli was pulled over, ticketed and could have faced a fine of up to $1,000 if convicted.

Charges were later dropped against Elli, but the American Civil Liberties Union sued on Elli’s behalf, believing the charges violated the First Amendment.

According to reports, 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.”

Source: Wall Street Journal


  • Scott

    I just hope that cop is not waiting on a child molester to drive past which has your son or daughter tied up in the back seat of the car so when you signal the other cars it may causes him to turn to another street or around!

  • Red

    Wow, to previous comment. Hmm think about this one. Your 16 year old has just been in an accident on that curve right before your house. The oncoming car is not “allowed” to flash his lights to warn you of danger. You continue on your merry way but too late as you come around the curve, BAM, you hit the nice citizen stopped to help your child get out of the wreckage because no official help has arrived, putting all of you in danger.

    • Scott

      I understand what you are saying, but if you are following the speed limit and watching ahead of you as you are suppose to be doing, you got a good chance of missing anyone that may be standing in the road. People are kidnapped, or on there way to commit a crime every day which law enforcement are waiting. I would rather have to slam on break or even drive off in the ditch hit a tree or anything on that line than a young child be raped or murdered.

    • chucky1992

      I think you missed the point of the story. What was in question was not flashing your lights to warn other drivers of accidents. The case was to decide if a driver could warn other drivers about officers who were checking speeds by flashing their lights.

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