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Flashing Your Lights – Is Your Right To Warn Louisiana Drivers Protected By The Constitution

police car bumper lights KPEL photo
police car bumper lights KPEL photo

If you drive in South Louisiana you know there are places where you can travel above the posted speed and there are places you can’t. While we never want to encourage the breaking of laws, we also don’t want you getting popped for speeding.

Drivers who travel down U.S. Highway 167 in Vermilion Parish know that the Village of Maurice pays extra special attention to motorist who travel above the posted speed. Those who travel I-49 in St. Landry Parish near the town of Washington also know the posted speed is the speed you should travel. Likewise South City Parkway and Congress Street near Lafayette High School are where the speed vans live.

What about the old fashioned officer with a radar gun on the side of the road? For years the international signal of “speed trap up ahead” was a quick flash of the headlights. I have done it many times for unsuspecting drivers. Many times I have been the beneficiary of such altruism. Is that flashing of lights breaking the law?

In Missouri a case about this very act went to court. The officer on traffic patrol noticed an oncoming driver flashing his lights and thought it wise to pull that driver over. It seems the town of Ellisville Missouri had a statute on the books that said warning other drivers of police presence could be punishable by a one thousand dollar fine.  The driver in this case felt flashing his lights was a form of free speech and protected by the United States Constitution.

Based on a Federal Judge’s ruling Monday the flashing of lights is in fact protected by the Bill of Rights. Attorney’s for the City of Ellisville argued that the flashing of lights could be construed as interfering with a police investigation or police procedures. The judge in the case saw it differently.

How do you feel about this? Is the flashing of lights or communicating with others about police presence within your rights as a citizen? Or do you feel that this is in fact a case of public interference into police affairs?

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