Should Flashing your Headlights be Illegal?

Sep 20, 2011

Should Flashing Your Headlights Be Illegal?

A recent class action lawsuit has the state of Florida reconsidering whether police officers can ticket drivers for flashing their headlights. Several counties have already put the practice on hold, with a statewide ban on the practice possible in the near future.


The debate began when Florida motorist Erich Campbell passed two Florida Highway Patrol cruisers parked in the median in December 2009 and flashed his headlights to warn oncoming drivers of the radar patrol. Campbell was immediately pulled over and ticketed for improper flashing of high beams.

"Literally within one minute, they had me stopped on the side of the road," recalled Campbell.

In August, Campbell filed a class-action lawsuit in Tallahassee against the highway patrol and other state traffic-enforcement agencies, seeking an injunction barring law enforcement from issuing headlight-flashing tickets.

Campbell's lawyer, J. Marc Jones, claims his client's First Amendment right to free speech was violated. "The flashing of lights to communicate with another driver is clearly speech," he said.

The flashing of headlights to communicate is common among American drivers, and is generally considered to be harmless. Do you think that flashing your headlights at oncoming traffic is disruptive or dangerous? Leave a comment and let us know.

Photo courtesy of Jason Rojas and re-used under the Creative Commons license.