Friday, January 23, 2015

ACLU suit stops ticketing drivers who flash lights to warn of speed traps

(From ACLU of Missouri)

The Grain Valley Police Department will no longer issue tickets to drivers who flash their headlights to communicate with other drivers. The city of Grain Valley repealed this portion of its ordinance that individuals be ticketed for warning of speed trips after the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri filed a federal lawsuit on Dec. 3 on behalf of Jerry L. Jarman, Jr. The lawsuit was dismissed today after the parties reached a settlement.

While driving in late August 2014 in Grain Valley, a suburb of Kansas City, Jarman observed a speed-trap and flashed his headlights to communicate with other drivers that they should proceed with caution. He was pulled over by a Grain Valley police officer and issued a citation for allegedly “interfering with radar” by flashing headlights at oncoming drivers.

In April 2014, the ACLU of Missouri secured a permanent injunction from U.S. District Judge Henry Autrey against the City of Ellisville, a suburb of St. Louis, for citing drivers who flashed their headlights to warn other drivers of radar ahead.

“We are pleased that Grain Valley agrees that drivers should not be penalized for warning others to drive cautiously,” said Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri. “Flashing headlights is a readily understood way of communicating a message and is protected by the First Amendment.”

Court documents can be found on the legal dockets page of the ACLU of Missouri’s website. As part of the settlement, Grain Valley paid damages to Jarman, as well as his attorneys’ fees and costs.


Anonymous said...

Warning oncoming drivers of a "speed trap" or warning them of a police/state trooper "up ahead" should it be against the law? Take this for are driving home from work and notice a police car off to the side of the road just waiting to stop the next hard working American only to fill his/her ticket "quota" for the you flash your lights at the oncoming traffic to warn them of the police officer who, really should be using your tax payers dollars to fight real crime, am I right??? so, you flash your lights, the oncoming car, nice, bright red Suburban, flashes back to say "thanks for the warning friend". Victory! you feel kind of like a hero, a savoir of sorts. the sneaky cop shouldn't have had been hiding to give some hard working person a speeding ticket just to fill his quota anyway...So you get home feeling pretty good about yourself. Dinner is ready, it smells so good! you sit down at the family dinner table to enjoy a wonderful meal with your spouse, your son and daughter but realize the kids are late...hmm the kiddo's take the same road home you do but should have been only a few minutes behind you....that sneaky cop!!! no one stepped up and warned your kids about the police hiding off on the side road like you did that Suburban...nothing would piss you off more right now, ruining your dinner, having to pay for a speed trap ticket, increase in insurance and all because that cop has a power trip. You call the kids cell phone but no answer. Time goes by and nothing, you don't whether to worry or continue to get angry. Then your phone rings, it's State Trooper... Smith, asking you to come to the morgue to identify the bodies of your children, they were just involved in a horrible car accident...hit head on by a drunk driver who was driving a... BRIGHT RED SUBURBAN! Feel like a hero now? Is flashing your lights a friendly warning or a trip to the morgue? Let the police do their job, do what's right and you won't have to worry.

Anonymous said...

If this is something that you have experienced, 9:20, I am so sorry.
This was a speed trap, not officers doing their jobs and protecting us.

Dusty Roads said...

Just cops trying to pad their ticket quota for the month, that is a lot easier than solving a crime.