Is It Illegal to Flash your Lights as a Warning of a Speed Trap?

In Florida, as elsewhere in the country, police set up speed traps to catch speeders. Speed traps are common along many local roads and highways and most motorists are unaware of them until it’s too late. But what happens if you want to warn other drivers of the potential speed trap they are approaching? Drivers often communicate with each other by flashing their lights. One reason to flash the lights is to let other drivers know of a police officer nearby. In Florida, many drivers have received traffic tickets – not for speeding but for flashing their lights to warn other drivers. In fact, more than 10,000 drivers have been issued tickets for flashing their lights to other drivers. This has happened in spite of a 2005 statute that states the police cannot wrongfully use the law to stop vehicles from communicating with each other.

Speed Traps

Speed traps in and of themselves may be annoying to motorists, but they aren’t illegal. Police are allowed to use radar guns or other methods to determine the speed of vehicles on the road. The term speed trap is often associated with a police officer (or team of officers) located in a position that makes them less visible to traffic so they can ascertain the speed without the driver being aware of it. Often a speed trap is set up so that one officer monitors the speed while another pulls over vehicles that have been found to be speeding. Speeding tickets in Florida are not only irritating, they can also be costly. Paying a speeding ticket will cost you not only in fines but also in points on your license. Accumulating too many points can cause your license to be suspended and will make your insurance go up.

Improper Flashing of High Beams

It is not illegal, according to state law in Florida, for a driver to use his or her high beams to flash other drivers as a form of communication. Yet many drivers have received tickets for just this offense. Apparently, tickets are sometimes given as a way to deter drivers from disclosing an upcoming speed trap. Indeed, the right of motorists to flash their headlights is protected by the First Amendment right to free speech. Police have agreed to stop giving tickets to motorists for flashing their high beams as a warning to other drivers. This activity is considered to be legal and has been ruled as free speech – a form of communication between two drivers. This finding has been upheld in Florida courts and establishes the fact that a police officer can’t give a ticket solely for flashing the headlights.

Fighting Tickets

If you have received a traffic ticket for speeding, or any other infraction, you may be inclined to simply pay the ticket. You may want to consider fighting your ticket in court. Keep in mind that until you pay a ticket you aren’t guilty of the charge. If you don’t agree with the charges you can take the ticket to court. What about a past ticket that you have received for flashing your headlights? If you have previously been ticketed for flashing your headlights you will want to discuss the matter with an attorney. Drivers who have been erroneously ticketed in the past may be entitled to have money returned to them if they paid a fine and additionally may receive money in damages. Contact an experienced traffic attorney before paying any citations to determine the best way to proceed.