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Flashing Headlights Is Protected Speech




A U.S. District Court judge in St. Louis has ruled (correctly) that motorists who alert their fellow drivers to police speed traps via flashing headlights are engaging in constitutionally protected “speech.”

Judge Henry E. Autrey issued the ruling in the case of Missouri native Michael Elli, who was accused by his local law enforcement of “flashing lights on certain vehicles … warning of RADAR ahead.”

The charge against Elli was dropped, but that didn’t stop the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) from suing on the grounds that Elli’s arrest violated his First Amendment rights.

Which it clearly did …

The argument employed by the government was that flashing headlights could potentially interfere in a police investigation (i.e. enabling a suspect to evade capture).

Autrey rejected that claim. Not only that, he added that motorists flashing their 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.”

We concur …

Not only is a motorist flashing his or her headlights a First Amendment right, it could potentially prevent accidents – a fringe benefit of protecting individual liberty.

Obviously this isn’t a landmark victory for freedom, but given the wholesale abandonment of liberty on so many other fronts in this country – it’s a victory worth celebrating.

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