LAWSUIT: FLASHING HEADLIGHTS TO WARN ONCOMING DRIVERS OF PRESENCE OF COPS IS CONSTITUTIONALLY PROTECTED SPEECH

When Erich Campbell passed two Florida Highway Patrol cruisers parked in the median near Tampa International Airport in December 2009, he flashed his headlights to warn oncoming drivers of the cops.

You can guess what happened next: Campbell was pulled over and ticketed for improperly flashing his high beams.

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-flash tickets.

Campbell’s lawyer claims that ”the flashing of lights to communicate with another driver is clearly speech,” and that the Tampa Highway Patrol violated Campbell’s First Amendment right to free speech by pulling him over and ticketing him for it.

A spokesman for the International Union of Police Associations disagrees, and contends that flashing headlights to warn oncoming traffic that there are law enforcement officers ahead “interfer[es] with legitimate law enforcement activity.”

Read the article here.

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