Missouri judge's ruling a victory for those who flash headlights to warn of speed traps

  • Article by: JIM SALTER , Associated Press
  • Updated: February 6, 2014 - 2:16 PM

ST. LOUIS — It's a common practice among drivers who pass through a speed trap: Flash your headlights at approaching cars as a warning to slow down. Now, a federal court judge in Missouri says penalizing drivers for the headlight flash violates their First Amendment right to free speech.

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u4775Feb. 6, 14 8:23 AM

It was also reported that this judge enjoined all police in Missouri from enforcing this imaginary law.

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ericgus55Feb. 6, 14 8:35 AM

This is a perfectly logical ruling, and the correct one in my opinion. I would think the police would actually WANT folks to warn each other about their speeding and voluntarily conform to the laws, but I guess they have another motive. The idea that one could be punished for giving another a warning is ridiculous.

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honeybooFeb. 6, 14 9:15 AM

Cops hate this ruling, as well as all rulings that uphold Americans' sbdolutr right to videotape them on duty. Time for the police establishment to accept that America is nation of laws - not of badges.

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pkbrandonFeb. 6, 14 9:32 AM

Question is whether this is one of those cases where a municipality maintained its police force by issuing exorbitant fines.

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rainbow7212Feb. 6, 14 9:33 AM

Finally we win against the police. But I bet you they will continue the harrassment. remember they gotta get their quotas and anything that stands in front of that will be dealt with. I will flash now all the time. Police if people respected you we might help you, but even stopping people for this shows the disregard you have for people so we have disregard for you too. it is a two way street respect has to be earned.

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dsppppFeb. 6, 14 9:34 AM

Reminding someone else to watch their speed is against the law? Only where speeding ticket sales are down I guess.

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gjacobFeb. 6, 14 9:37 AM

Municipalities hate this ruling as it affects revenue. The must maximize taxation by citation - the same reason why Minnesota cops break traffic laws 6 days a week and enforce them 1 day (if they enforce the laws with every car they see, people will be more careful, and that's bad for business). More traffic tickets builds a much nicer city hall.

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rogerbFeb. 6, 14 9:55 AM

You gotta ask - is the traffic stop about safety or about revenue? If it's about safety, why wouldn't you want drivers to warn other drivers to slow down? Yeah - that's what I thought....

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plizzoFeb. 6, 1410:04 AM

Is interfering in other police investigations also free speech? If someone holds up a sign notifying passersby that police in the area are conducting prostitution stings or drug arrests, would that be free speech? Would it be free speech for someone to act as a lookout and warn others who are committing crimes that police are on their way? If a drug dealer was on his way to sell drugs to an undercover office in a pre-arranged meeting and someone approached the dealer and told him he was meeting police, would that be free speech?

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snickelodeonFeb. 6, 1410:13 AM

It's unlikely that this or future court decisions will cause law enforcement agencies to respect the First Amendment. Consider: court decisions across the country have held that there is a First Amendment right to record audio and video of police officers performing their public duties. The U.S. Dept. of Justice agrees, and the Supreme Court declined to review a 7th Circuit decision upholding this right. Yet police officers in many jurisdictions continue to charge individuals exercising this right with "disorderly conduct" or violation of certain "eavesdropping" laws. And in Minnesota, we have the shameful example of a man in Little Canada whose camera was confiscated by a Ramsey County sheriff's deputy, who said she was "gonna be upset" if she ended up on YouTube. Over a year later, he continues to face prosecution. We probably expect cops and prosecutors in states like Missouri, Florida, Texas, etc. to overreach and ignore basic civil liberties. But let's not assume law enforcement agencies in Minnesota are any better when it comes to respecting the First or Fourth Amendments.

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