Headlight Flashing: Can you warn other drivers of police speed traps?
There are a number of different driving styles that are present on Americas roads. The aggressive driver, the speedster, the slowpoke, the defensive driver, the afraid to drive driver, the always looks like they are lost driver, and I’m always late driver. Of course there are many more driving styles, however no matter what kind of driver a person is they can really be broken down into two distinctive type of driver. The ones that believe they are helping out fellow drivers by warning them of potential dangers down the road and police speeding traps, and other drivers who could care less. The first group are considered by their fellow citizens as helpful strangers protecting their fellow citizen from the potential financial strain of speeding tickets, rising insurance costs, and additional stress. These warnings come from the flashing of headlights or headlight flashing.
Reasons For Headlight Flashing
Of course people flash their headlights on their vehicles for a number of different reasons. Most commonly drivers flash their headlights to other drivers to remind them to turn on their lights at night if the other driver happens to be driving their vehicle with their headlights off, if their trunk or gas door is open as well. Drivers also tend to flash their headlights to warn other drivers of speed traps set by police, or to warn them if there is a police car hiding from view some distance ahead. The question is, is it legal for people to flash their headlight to warn other drivers of such things? Although a states laws and regulations may vary generally flashing your lights in a reasonable manner is legal. In fact, a number of Federal District Judges have ruled that citizens have a First Amendment right to flash their headlights to warn others of police speed traps or if there are dangers on the highway and there is a need to slow down (Check out the 2014 case of a Mr. Michael Elli, where his ticket of $1,000 for obstruction of justice for warning drivers of a speed trap was voided. The Judge in this case even stated, “ [Flashing one’s lights] sends a message to bring one’s driving in conformity with the law whether that is it be by reducing speed, turning on one’s own headlamps at dusk or in the rain, or proceeding with caution”) Nevertheless, an officer may still pull you over and issue a citation if your flash your high beams in an unreasonable manner or in such a way that may be seen as causing a hazard to other drivers. We advise that if you do flash your lights it be from the on/off position to the low beam setting or a few flashes of the high beam (2-3 times) at most. Any more uses of the low to high beams would likely be considered excessive.
Is Headlight Flashing Legal?
The biggest takeaway here however is that flashing your headlights to warn other drivers in a reasonable manner is generally not considered illegal as it is a protected First Amendment Right of Free Speech (“Slow the hell down”), and in fact help reduce the speed of other drivers and assist in making roads a safer place.
If you want to check out what some reddit users think of the subject you can find their comments here.
If you want information on whether radar detectors in cars are legal check out our article on the matter here.