Is flashing your carís headlights protected by the First Amendment? - Mercedes Benz SLK Forum

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#1 Old 07-15-2013
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Is flashing your carís headlights protected by the First Amendment?

Missouri resident Michael Elli wanted to let others on the road know to slow down because they were about to drive into a speed trap, so he did what many kindhearted souls do: He flashed his headlights as a warning.

Police didnít take at all kindly to warnings of this 21st century Paul Revere. They flashed him a ticket of his very own for obstruction of justice. Prosecutors eventually dropped the case, but Mr. Elli has now filed a class action lawsuit against the city because he says that the city retaliates against drivers who exercise their right to free speechĖand that the government is trying to prevent it because it doesnít like the message.
Under the law, obstruction of justice is generally defined as an attempt to interfere with the administration of the courts, the judicial system or law enforcement officers.

But the line between obstructing justice by advising others of an ongoing investigation and an individualís right to free speech can be very murky.

This issue has popped up in several states where the police conducting a speed trap have not taken kindly to those who warn the oncoming speed demons. Courts in Florida, Utah, and Tennessee have all examined the question of whether the act is obstruction of justice or a form of protected speech and have found that itís protected speech, and that the (headlight) flasher cannot be prosecuted.

But when motorists who had been prosecuted but later had their charges dropped then tried to sue the police for money for the wrongful prosecution, they have been far less successful.

A father and son in Florida who tried to sue the state of Florida in a class action lawsuit on behalf of all drivers given a ticket lost their lawsuit because the state government had rewritten its policy in the interim to train officers not to write such tickets.

So itís no surprise that the charges against Mr. Elli were tossed; winning a lawsuit against the city for filing them in the first place may be more revolutionary.


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#2 Old 07-16-2013
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hmmmm...I do this all the time....


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#3 Old 07-16-2013
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...me too and the "boss" hates it... (apparently seen as aggressive)


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Warning Other Drivers Of Speed Traps Is Constitutionally Protected Free Speech jbanks15 Off Topic 22 05-28-2012 08:36 PM

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