Flashing Headlights To Warn About Police Is First Amendment Right
In a surprising move, a judge in Sanford, Florida ruled that a man who flashed his headlights to warn neighbors that a deputy had set up a speed trap nearby was lawfully exercising his First Amendment right to freedom of speech. Thats right, a judge actually made a common sense ruling that makes sense! In Florida nonetheless!
Ryan Kintner sued the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office last year, accusing it of misdefining a state law and violating his civil rights, principally his right to free speech. He argued that the officer misapplied a state law designed to ban motorists from flashing after-market emergency lights. Shortly after filing suit, Kintner said, “I felt an injustice was being done. … I have nothing against officers … keeping speeding down, but when you cross a line and get into free speech, I feel it’s gone too far.” This is a problem that a lot of people have had with the law. More and more it is easier for people to be charged with things they didn’t even know were laws.
Circuit Judge Alan Dickey earlier ruled that that state law does not apply to people who did what Kintner did, use his headlights to communicate and on Tuesday the judge went a step further, saying people who flash their headlights to communicate are engaging in behavior protected by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.
“He felt the police specifically went out of their way to silence Mr. Kintner and that it was clearly a violation of his First Amendment free speech rights,” said his attorney, J. Marcus Jones of Oviedo.
photo courtesy of Seminole County Sheriff’s Office