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Old 05-25-2012, 12:06 PM   #1
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Is flashing your headlights Free Speech?

Some years ago in South Central MA I was stopped by a local LEO and asked if I had been flashed by oncoming traffic warning me of his presence on this popular country back road. Whether I was or I wasn't was totally irrelevant because I always drove the road at, or below, the 45 MPH speed limit simply because I knew it was targeted by local law enforcement due to it's use as a popular east-west artery.

His question and demeanor kind of nagged at me for a couple of days after the stop because I thought, "Well, what if I was? If the end result was that I slowed down below the speed limit, then his mission was accomplished." But was it? Maybe his primary goal was to raise revenue for the town and the goal of safety was incidental to raising revenue.

This recent story appeared in the New York Daily News. I thought it might be of interest to this group.


Flashing headlights to warn of speed trap protected by the First Amendment: judge* - NY Daily News
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Old 05-25-2012, 12:16 PM   #2
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And it should be protected under the 1st amendment but we also know speed traps and lots of other traffic laws have nothing to do with safety but a great way to bring revenue into a small community at our expense just another form of a tax.
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Old 05-25-2012, 12:25 PM   #3
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Yea.... Tell the cop who pulls you over and asks if you were flashing your lights that it is 'free speech'..... You will be lucky if you drive away with less than 3-4 violations. After he does a close inspection of the vehicle he could probably find a lot more things to write you up for.
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Old 05-25-2012, 12:25 PM   #4
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And it should be protected under the 1st amendment but we also know speed traps and lots of other traffic laws have nothing to do with safety but a great way to bring revenue into a small community at our expense just another form of a tax.
Watching a "cop" show, the fish and game officer said.."This was not a very good shift, everyone had their licenses and no one was over limit"

I guess I'm a dreamer but I would think that would make it a great shift, means I'm doing my job and ppl are obeying the laws.
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Old 05-25-2012, 11:37 PM   #5
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Watching a "cop" show, the fish and game officer said.."This was not a very good shift, everyone had their licenses and no one was over limit"

I guess I'm a dreamer but I would think that would make it a great shift, means I'm doing my job and ppl are obeying the laws.
You would think so wouldn't you.
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Old 05-25-2012, 11:43 PM   #6
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If a cop asked me that, I would say yes I did. I am just helping you do your job, which is trying to get people to slow down. Right?
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Old 05-26-2012, 07:52 AM   #7
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Sec 195 of the NYS penal law state in part:

Under our law, a person is guilty of Obstructing Governmental Administration in the Second Degree when that person intentionally obstructs, impairs or perverts the
administration of law or other governmental function or prevents or attempts to prevent a public servant from performing an official function

I think the cost of getting a towed car back is about $350 today for openers.
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Old 05-26-2012, 08:08 AM   #8
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I suspect my view is very unpopular. I refuse to flash my lights because if someone is breaking the law why is it up to me to save them from points on their license and a fine? I won't argue one way or another if it is a free speech issue but I will argue that those breaking the law, and getting caught, should expect to pay the price. I live in a neighborhood that severs as a cut through for traffic. Forever and always people just roll up to the stop sign, occasional slow down, and just sail right on through. What about the innocent pedestrian they hit? No it hasn't happened yet but I jump for joy every time I see a cruiser sit near my home and then take off after an offender.

Once again I won't disagree or argue with this right of free speech to flash your lights but my question to those that do it is how would you feel if you later found out that you helped enable a driver to get into an accident caused by speed?
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Old 05-26-2012, 09:08 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ParTheCourse View Post
Sec 195 of the NYS penal law state in part:

Under our law, a person is guilty of Obstructing Governmental Administration in the Second Degree when that person intentionally obstructs, impairs or perverts the
administration of law or other governmental function or prevents or attempts to prevent a public servant from performing an official function
BUT their official government function is to enforce highway safety. Warning to reduce speed is not obstructing or impairing, it is ASSISTING by reminding not to speed, just like warning signs "YOU slow down" and parking empty cruisers along the road.

The only thing that bothered me about the news report was that the guy left his house after seeing the speed trap and drove down the road, parked, and started flashing his lights. A bit deliberate. I have benefited from passing drivers flashing lights a time or two and have done the same, as I drove along.
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Old 05-26-2012, 09:08 AM   #10
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9901,
Good for you. I am not Paul Revere and of the same opinion.
I will, however, repeatedly flash my lights to oncoming traffic if I had just passed a Deer, accident or other obstruction on the road, which happens a lot in this area.
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Old 05-26-2012, 09:51 AM   #11
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I suspect my view is very unpopular. I refuse to flash my lights because if someone is breaking the law why is it up to me to save them from points on their license and a fine? I won't argue one way or another if it is a free speech issue but I will argue that those breaking the law, and getting caught, should expect to pay the price. I live in a neighborhood that severs as a cut through for traffic. Forever and always people just roll up to the stop sign, occasional slow down, and just sail right on through. What about the innocent pedestrian they hit? No it hasn't happened yet but I jump for joy every time I see a cruiser sit near my home and then take off after an offender.

Once again I won't disagree or argue with this right of free speech to flash your lights but my question to those that do it is how would you feel if you later found out that you helped enable a driver to get into an accident caused by speed?
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Old 05-26-2012, 10:25 AM   #12
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I once got pulled over on my bicycle for exceeding the speed limit. $180 fine, however no points on my drivers license. I started laughing when the motorcycle cop asked me the make and model of my vehicle.
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Old 05-26-2012, 11:44 AM   #13
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Some years ago we drove through a small mid-Western town. The "Welcome To" sign has the message "Our speed limit is 25 mph. The fine is $5 for every mph above the limit. Please choose a speed you can afford."
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Old 05-26-2012, 12:52 PM   #14
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His question and demeanor kind of nagged at me for a couple of days after the stop because I thought, "Well, what if I was? If the end result was that I slowed down below the speed limit, then his mission was accomplished." But was it? Maybe his primary goal was to raise revenue for the town and the goal of safety was incidental to raising revenue.
Yep. When the main objective seems to focus on 'catching' people rather than simply slowing them down it's had to come to any other conclusion.
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