Flashing Headlights

There is a case in Oregon stirring quite some discussions about traffic law enforcements, headlight flashing, free speech expressions, urban legends, horn honking, and more. Some of this buzz seems to be exaggerations, but lets first start with the initiating news.

Judge rules flashing headlights is free speech in Oregon case

TrafficHauling a truckload of logs to a Southern Oregon mill last fall, Chris Hill noticed a sheriff’s deputy behind him and flashed his lights to warn a UPS driver coming the other way.

The deputy pulled over Hill on U.S. Highway 140 in White City and handed him a $260 ticket for improperly using his headlights, saying another deputy had seen the flashing lights from behind the UPS truck and alerted him to stop the log truck because of the signaling.

Outraged, Hill decided to fight the ticket, and on Wednesday, a Jackson County Justice Court judge dismissed the citation, finding that motorists flashing their headlights amounts to speech protected by the Oregon Constitution.

Judge Joseph Carter determined the law covering the use of high beams was valid, but was unconstitutional as it was applied by the deputy.

“The citation was clearly given to punish the Defendant for that expression,” the judge wrote. “The government certainly can and should enforce the traffic laws for the safety of all drivers on the road. However, the government cannot enforce the traffic laws, or any other laws, to punish drivers for their expressive conduct.”
Quoted from Fox News

Another point of view you get from this police officer:

Alex Jones has of course an opinion about it:

Just yesterday the Constitution Center published this post on their blog in effect supporting the idea that flashing headlights are legal even to warn other drivers against speed traps etc., and that this opinion gains momentum.

Urban Legends say there is a gang initiation ritual towards drivers flashing headlights. I don’t consider that as serious, but here you can read more about “Flash your light and die”

A really good collection of questions and answers were published by The Oregonian with Flashing on Oregon highways

For some honking their horn maybe considered similarly an expression of free speech, but in contrast to flashing headlights most other drivers and certainly people living near or walking on the road are really annoyed by excessive honking. Though e.g. in NYC the fine for honking is $350 hardly anyone ever gets these tickets, New York Daily reported.

Whenever you get a traffic ticket, fight it. Give us a call at 305-LAW-FIRM and we’ll take care of your issues.

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