advertisement

Permanent injunction allows headlight-flashing

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 | 7:38 a.m. CDT; updated 12:24 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 9, 2014

ST. LOUIS — A federal judge has issued a permanent injunction prohibiting a St. Louis County town from ticketing drivers for flashing their headlights to warn other drivers that police are nearby.

U.S. District Judge Henry Autrey issued the injunction Monday.

The American Civil Liberties Union had filed suit on behalf of Michael Elli. In 2012, Elli flashed his headlights to warn oncoming vehicles of radar set up by Ellisville police. An officer saw the flash and cited Elli for a city ordinance violation.

Elli could have faced a fine of up to $1,000, but the case was dropped. A message left with Peter J. Dunne, the attorney handling the case for Ellisville, was not immediately returned on Wednesday. Ellisville City Attorney George Restovich has said previously that the city changed the policy and no longer pulls over people for flashing headlights.

The ACLU contended that Ellisville was violating First Amendment rights of drivers.

"The police cannot retaliate against drivers who have done nothing wrong and are simply exercising their right to communicate with other drivers," Jeffrey A. Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Missouri, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Drivers often flash lights to warn approaching drivers to slow down for a variety of reasons, ACLU attorney Tony Rothert said. Among those reasons: To warn them that a police car is nearby, perhaps using radar to catch speeders.

Autrey issued a preliminary injunction in the case in February. By then, Ellisville had stopped pulling over drivers for flashing headlights for about a year, Restovich said in February.

Autrey said in his February ruling that the flashing of headlights was essentially a good thing, sending "a message to bring one's driving in conformity with the law — whether it be by slowing down, turning on one's own headlamps at dusk or in the rain, or proceeding with caution."


Like what you see here? Become a member.


Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Comments

Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.

advertisements