Green Room

Judge rules 1st Amendment protects motorists’ right to warn others of speed traps

posted at 2:42 pm on May 23, 2012 by

Sanford, Fl., which has been in the headlines frequently in recent months, has made news again, this time unrelated to a shooting that occurred there in February.

The Orlando Sentinel reports:

A judge in Sanford ruled Tuesday that a Lake Mary man was lawfully exercising his First Amendment rights when he flashed his headlights to warn neighbors that a deputy had set up a speed trap nearby.

That decision is another victory for Ryan Kintner, 25, who sued the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office last year, accusing it of misconstruing a state law and violating his civil rights, principally his right to free speech.

The law in the current case, Florida Statute 316.2397, was cites in a nearly identical case reported in this space last August in which another motorist, Eric Campbell, received a summons from Florida Highway Patrol for tipping off on-coming traffic about a police presence by blinking his lights. The text of the statute reads in part:

(7) Flashing lights are prohibited on vehicles except as a means of indicating a right or left turn, to change lanes, or to indicate that the vehicle is lawfully stopped or disabled upon the highway or except that the lamps authorized in subsections (1), (2), (3), (4), and (9) and s. 316.235(5) are permitted to flash.

Circuit Judge Alan Dickey, who presided over the Kintner case, earlier ruled that that state law does not apply to people who did what Kintner did, use his headlights to communicate. On Tuesday the judge took his ruling a step further, declaring that people who flash their headlights to communicate are engaging in behavior protected by the U.S. Constitution.

Kintner’s attorney, J. Marcus Jones, is on record as stating that the judge “felt the police specifically went out of their way to silence Mr. Kintner and that it was clearly a violation of his free speech rights.”

Related Articles

Follow me on Twitter or join me at Facebook. You can reach me at howard.portnoy@gmail.com or by posting a comment below.

Recently in the Green Room:

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Misinterpreting that law to say people cannot flash their headlights is pure police state extremism anyway.
It’s pretty darn obvious theose of the law is to say that people can’t having flashing lights installed on their cars – i.e. the kind of flashing lights (red, yellow, and blue) that emergency vehicles have installed – otherwise you are attempting to pose as an emergency vehicle.

Glad to see we have at least one sane judge in this country.

dentarthurdent on May 23, 2012 at 2:52 PM

theose of the law

the purpose of the law

Darn fat fingers….

dentarthurdent on May 23, 2012 at 2:53 PM

So… in trying to punish a citizen for “denying” or “preventing” the state from generating revenue via speeding tickets, how much taxpayer money was actually wasted by the state?

YAY GOVERNMENT!

Jeddite on May 23, 2012 at 3:01 PM

By that police officer’s estimation, you’re breaking the law when you flash the 18 wheeler in front of you that he can change lanes, or the 18 wheeler flashes their lights as a thanks to you or other 18 wheelers for allowing them to change a lane in front of you.

The officer probably said the guy was interfering with the officer’s job.

Money. Comes down to money. Like all those red-light cameras. Revenue. It’s not about safety.

Logus on May 23, 2012 at 3:18 PM

Maybe the laws in other states are more clear. The wording of that law does seem to refer to lights that automatically flash, as opposed to manually flashing one’s headlights.

According to his suit, Kintner was home Aug. 10 when he saw a deputy park along a street and pull out his radar gun. Kintner then got in his car, drove a couple of blocks away, parked and pointed his vehicle at oncoming traffic and began flashing his lights.

I wish more people took the time to help reduce speeding in dangerous areas.

pedestrian on May 23, 2012 at 3:52 PM

Logus on May 23, 2012 at 3:18 PM

Yes – and across the country the reality is people flash their headlights as a general warning to slow down and/or be on the lookout for lots of things – deer/elk on or near the road, rocks on the road on mountain passes, flooded area, etc.

dentarthurdent on May 23, 2012 at 3:56 PM

It is nice to see freedom wining… for a change

And for any kowtower who might be reading this: FACE!

APasserBy on May 24, 2012 at 1:50 AM

http://www.speedtrap.org/

A way for drivers to help each other out :)

thebrokenrattle on May 24, 2012 at 8:49 AM

The law is pretty damn clear. Flashing lights (the object or system) are not equal to the act of flashing ones lights. Has reading comprehension become an elective course or something?

Think about the reverse. If you suddenly can’t “warn” people that if they’re doing something that will get them noticed by the cops, they should knock it off?

Hey Bob, turn down the stereo a bit…

PXCharon on May 24, 2012 at 8:58 AM

All of this is academic. There was a State Court decision in Florida that stated clearly the motorists who flashed their lights were not violating the law. At the time, I remember writing that if I was the Governor, and I found that my State Police were still citing people despite a State Court decision on the case, I would inform the officers writing those citations to turn in their badges with the citation.

Police are required to follow the law. The law as laid down by the legislature, and interpreteded by Judges. If the judge says that is not illegal, and no appeal has overturned his/her decision. That is the law. Knowingly violating the law is criminal, and anyone who wrote such a citation should not be a cop anymore.

I would now say with this decision, barring further legislation from the State of Florida clarifying the law and how it does NOT violate the First Amendment. I would demand that all police who write such a ticket be fired for violating the laws of this nation, and of the State. Hoping that the motorist you pulled over didn’t know what he was doing was legal is the worst kind of law enforcement.

Snake307 on May 24, 2012 at 4:29 PM