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Is warning others of a speed trap illegal? Cops say yes

Law enforcement's use of speed traps has always been a questionable practice. Setting up in areas where motorists are more prone to speeding, getting caught in a speed trap can almost guarantee a driver a speeding ticket. But did you know that alerting other motorists to a speed trap can do just the same?

A common practice drivers employ in South Carolina and across the country to alert oncoming traffic of a nearby speed trap is flashing their lights or high beams. While flashing one's lights or high beams is not an illegal act, a court can decide whether it is obstruction of justice when it is done to tip off other cars to a speed trap.

Depending where you are in the country certainly has a lot to do with it. In some states, flashing your lights for any reason whatsoever at a certain distance is a ticket-able offense. In other states, flashing the lights of a car is actually protected under free speech laws.

While exercising free speech by flashing lights might sound a little odd, that is actually the argument that sways most judges when drivers fight cases of flashing-light offenses. Some would argue that a driver is within his or her right to notify other vehicles of a speed trap. Many radio stations will caution drivers to slow down when police exercise heavy patrol, and that is not considered illegal.

Those that side with law enforcement on the issue say the practice is very much illegal, almost like warning someone that they should run because the cops are near. Police around the country seem to key in on drivers who flash their lights to warn of a speed trap, even though motorists have plenty of other reasons to flash their lights.

The issue has come to a head in Florida where citizens have taken a class-action lawsuit against police, who have written up to 10,000 tickets for it since 2005. The case has garnered national attention.

Source: FOX Business, "Speed-trap warning can earn you a ticket," Leah L. Culler, Nov. 18, 2011

1 Comment

The fact is. warning others of a speed trap is not illegal. It might get you a ticket but in reality it is no more illegal than using your freedom of speech. I can not cite case law here for every state but I can assure you it was tested in 2011 and found to be illegal to arrest someone for warning someone about a speed trap. Remember fuzz busters do the same thing.

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