Police Speed Trap

Inside the Law: Flashing Headlights and Free Speech

June 01, 2018 - 3:30 am

By Amy E. Feldman, Judge Technology Solutions​

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- Is it illegal to flash other drivers to warn them that there’s a speed trap?

Canadian police set up several large electronic signs that warned drivers: "POLICE AHEAD -- STAY OFF YOUR PHONE." Despite that, within just two hours, officers ticketed 89 drivers for distracted driving, carrying a $368 fine.  

Usually, it’s not the police telling you to WATCH OUT FOR THE POLICE, but other drivers, who flash their headlights to let people know there’s a speed trap ahead. 

Is that illegal? 

Many people have, in fact, received tickets under state motor vehicle laws for obstruction of justice for doing it, but federal courts that have looked at the issue have determined that flashing one’s headlights is a form of speech, protected by the First Amendment. So, it’s your right to flash your headlights to warn others of the peril ahead.

But perhaps if you want to really want to help people, you’ll remind them of the perils of speeding, just like the police do even if they don’t have electronic signs, they do, in fact, post speed limit signs and expect you to obey them.