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erkme73

join:2009-12-02

1 recommendation

Flashing headlights on/off to warn of speed trap (FL)

I was ticketed last weekend for "IMPROPER USE OF HIGH-BEAMS" - citing FL statute 316.2397.7.

The officer claims I 'flashed' my high beams in excess of five times.

I recorded the traffic stop

»www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ed7xiZeWrYk&


The video shows I turned my lights on and off. The cop would not let me explain, insisting I used my brights.

There are several issues I want to try to clarify before I go to court.

1) As written, the statute appears to be for lights that are designed to flash (i.e. turn signals, strobes, etc). As such I don't think turning headlights on and off qualify. And even if they do, 'flashing' is not defined (i.e. 2x per second, etc). So, if I turn my lights on and off for a rain storm, notify an oncoming driver his lights are off, or test my light switch, I'm guilty of 'flashing'? »www.flsenate.gov/statutes/index.···316.2397

2) The comment field on the ticket indicates "Improper use of high beams". Clearly, I did not use them. That I can prove in court. But what will the judge say? "So he thought they were your brights... we'll change the notes on the ticket to 'blinking regular lights', guilty".

3) The audio recording was without consent. FL is a two-party consent state, unless the participants have "no reasonable expectation of privacy". While I do have a 1x3" sticker on my driver's side window with the words "Notice: conversations inside and within 6 feet of this vehicle may be recorded". Not my fault the officer didn't see it. Further, I would think a stop by a public officer, on a public road, shouting on the street, wearing his own recording device (that should be available via FOIA) probably eliminates any perception of privacy.

What really gets my goat is that the two FHP vehicles in the speed trap had to race after me at 100+MPH... for what? Because they're pissed I was warning other drivers? In GA, a similar case escalated to their Supreme Court, ending in a dismissal on grounds of 1st amendment rights.

I have a pending interview with a local CBS investigative reporter who wants to expose the practice... that and I think he wants to show how technology can be used to keep law straight.


CylonRed
Premium,MVM
join:2000-07-06
Bloom County

2 edits
EDIT - misunderstood the part I responded to.

quote:
There are several issues I want to try to clarify before I go to court.
Then you NEED to talk to a lawyer - unless some one here is a lawyer and know the state laws - then all you will get are guesses.

At best this also belongs in the Automotive Social forum rather than the auto technical forum.
--
Brian

"It drops into your stomach like a Abrams's tank.... driven by Rosanne Barr..." A. Bourdain

tcope
Premium
join:2003-05-07
Sandy, UT
kudos:2

3 edits
reply to erkme73
I certainly think you are fine to record as you mentioned. There is no expectation of privacy on the roadway as you said.

From what I recall I saw this brought up years ago in FL. I'm pretty sure it's illegal to warn others of the presence of a police officer. I think the issue then was that someone placed a sign on the side of the road to warn others. I'll see what I can find.

Edit: Easy enough-

»en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headlight_flashing

"Florida state statutes state "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".[24] There are some exceptions to the law, such as when a driver flashes his headlights to tell another driver that his headlights are off, but there is no exception for warning of speed traps.[24] A ticket for headlight flashing involves a moving violation and a $90 fine."

You could go to court and claim you were signally another vehicle that their lights were not on. Or course if the cop shows up he might tell the judge about your claim that your switch was not working and other excuses. This would seem to contradict this new defense.


CylonRed
Premium,MVM
join:2000-07-06
Bloom County
I believe in a LOT of jurisdictions - it is illegal to alert to an officer - even by flashing the lights..
--
Brian

"It drops into your stomach like a Abrams's tank.... driven by Rosanne Barr..." A. Bourdain

erkme73

join:2009-12-02
I couldn't find anything - and obviously the Trooper couldn't either. Searching under the statute he used (on google), I found many other FL residents who got the same ticket for the same offense.

Warning motorists is a form of communication - which I would think should be protected by freedom of speech. Besides, if the act of warning about a speed trap were illegal, then the billboards above known speed traps (i.e. Waldo, FL) and the radio traffic reports that alert drivers would also be illegal.

The term "Flashing Lights" uses flashing as an adjective - not a verb. The lights in that paragraph are all designed to flash.

erkme73

join:2009-12-02
reply to CylonRed
Mods - please move accordingly - sorry about that...


CylonRed
Premium,MVM
join:2000-07-06
Bloom County
reply to erkme73
Fact is - it is illegal as already notedc and frankly - it is pretty easy to tell if a motorist flashes their lights to warn of police officers. Most officers are observant enough to know if a car comes by without lights on.

Get into a verage battle and the Judge will not be amused.

I find this simple test to be used in situations like this - Did you flash the lights to warn drivers? Yes - pay the fine and get on with life - lesson learned. No - then get a lawyer to fight it or learn enough to be your own lawyer.
--
Brian

"It drops into your stomach like a Abrams's tank.... driven by Rosanne Barr..." A. Bourdain

erkme73

join:2009-12-02
"or learn enough to be your own lawyer."

That's what I'm trying to do...


headlit

@blackberry.net
Just admit it. You were in the wrong, now pay the fine and move on!


Chinabound
Premium
join:2002-12-21
Antioch, IL
kudos:3

1 recommendation

reply to erkme73
I warn people sometimes, but, I'm sorry - you were a fool to flash your lights so soon after passing the cops. Common sense should tell you and everyone else that turning your lights on and off, or flashing your brights to warn others of a speed trap is against the law without having to confirm that it indeed is unlawful. Of course it would be.

The sarcasm didn't help you. Had you apologized, admitted your ignorance about that law, and not been sarcastic by demonstrating the difference between on and off to a cop, you might have simply received a warning.

I also wonder about you people that keep a camera running on your dashboard.
Seems both provocative and paranoid.

erkme73

join:2009-12-02
It wasn't sarcasm. I was trying to show him what the different light pattern was - that flashing my brights didn't make the same light difference as turning them on and off.

And the ticket was already in my hand by the time I showed him that. Watch the video again and pay attention to the timing before calling anyone a fool.

That paranoia has saved my hide on several occasions from officers who could only be proven wrong in court. Being polite only gets you so far, and the rest is up to the judge.

erkme73

join:2009-12-02
reply to Chinabound
BTW, read this article (not just my c/p):

»www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co···80603975

quote:
The Washington lawyer who threatened to file suit against Montgomery County police after being ticketed for flashing his lights in a speed enforcement zone says he is not likely to take legal action after he received an e-mail from the police chief.
This Story

Mark Zaid said Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger wrote that the officer had acted outside the policy of the department in issuing the ticket.
Despite what the wiki page says (in citing a newspaper article from 2003) In FL, there is no law that makes warning of an officer presence illegal. I'd love to see someone cite the statute that does.

It's not common sense to think there should be. We live in America and we ought to have the right to communicate. Unless I'm calling fire in a theater, cops should not be able to intimidate the public with a law that was designed to keep strobe lights off of cars. If providing warning of police presence were illegal, so to would be radar detectors and red light camera and speed camera database-equipped devices.

The cop was upset that I revealed his location. He came after me with a lie, refused to let me explain that I didn't use my high beams (which is the accusation on the ticket), and he used a vague statute which doesn't qualify. A flashing light (strobe/blinker) is different that one who flashes a continuously on light.

In the article I cited above:

quote:
David Rocah, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, agrees with Zaid. Rocah said the state's law "clearly refers" to flashing lights as an "adjective, not a verb." He said that means it is not legal to drive with a continuously flashing light on a vehicle, but flashing a light once to communicate with someone on the road is not a violation.
Maryland's prohibition on flashing lights is worded virtually identically to the FL statute. Interesting how their court system and police captain are able to interpret it as not applying to the head lights:

quote:
§ 22-227. Special restrictions on lamps.
(a) Certain lamps other than headlamps, spot lamps, auxiliary lamps, warning lamps, and signals.- During the times specified in § 22-201.1 of this subtitle, any lighted lamp or illuminating device on a motor vehicle (other than headlamps, spot lamps, auxiliary lamps, flashing turn signals, emergency vehicle and service vehicle warning lamps, and school vehicle warning lamps) that projects a beam of light of an intensity greater than 300 candlepower shall be so directed that no part of the high-intensity portion of the beam will strike the level of the roadway on which the vehicle stands at a distance of more than 75 feet from the vehicle.
quote:
(c) Flashing lights.- Flashing lights are prohibited except as required or permitted in the Maryland Vehicle Law.
(d) White light visible from rear.- Except as authorized elsewhere in this subtitle, a person may not drive or move any vehicle or equipment on any highway with any lamp or device on it that displays a white light visible directly from its rear.
(e) Driving or moving vehicle displaying flashing light.- Except as authorized elsewhere in this subtitle, a person may not drive or move any vehicle or equipment on any highway while the vehicle or equipment displays any flashing light.





Lurch77
Premium
join:2001-11-22
Oconto, WI
kudos:4
reply to erkme73
Something that stands out in my mind is that turning off your headlights while driving after dark is also illegal. The argument that it was not your brights is moot in this case, since turning on your brights at on coming traffic is also illegal.
--
"On a motorcycle, you're penetrating distance right along with the machine. In a car you're just a spectator; the windshield's like a TV." ~ Kenny "Von Dutch" Howard


hambone42
Peace, through superior firepower
Premium
join:2002-02-02
Manassas, VA
Reviews:
·Comcast
reply to erkme73
If you haven't yet done so, I recommend researching some of the traffic law information at »www.motorists.org, including their "legal defense kit"...which you can borrow if you are an NMA member.
--
Sarcasm is the Body's Natural Defense Against Stupidity


CylonRed
Premium,MVM
join:2000-07-06
Bloom County
reply to erkme73
said by erkme73:

"or learn enough to be your own lawyer."

That's what I'm trying to do...
You need to do that by going somewhere where the info will come from a LAWYER - not average people with no real knowledge you need of the law.

Posting here does virtually nothing to increase your knowledge enough to go to court and defend yourself.
--
Brian

"It drops into your stomach like a Abrams's tank.... driven by Rosanne Barr..." A. Bourdain


CylonRed
Premium,MVM
join:2000-07-06
Bloom County
reply to Lurch77
said by Lurch77:

Something that stands out in my mind is that turning off your headlights while driving after dark is also illegal. The argument that it was not your brights is moot in this case, since turning on your brights at on coming traffic is also illegal.
Matter of fact - turning off the lights on and off is FAR more dangerous.
--
Brian

"It drops into your stomach like a Abrams's tank.... driven by Rosanne Barr..." A. Bourdain


burner50
Proud Union THUG
Premium
join:2002-06-05
Fort Worth, TX
kudos:1
reply to erkme73
I am not a lawyer.

It does not matter what the cop wrote on your ticket. The section of code that he cited, is in regards to flashing lights. It is general enough that it will cover either.
--
I'm tired of killing stupid people just trying to do my job and go home!

cahiatt
Premium
join:2001-03-21
Smyrna, GA
reply to erkme73
said by erkme73:

.... Being polite only gets you so far, and the rest is up to the judge.
Correct. But it has been about 99% effective with me and my family. Almost always get no points with reduced fine. Last ticket I had I paid $15 and no points. Say your sorry and fess up. Don't bullshit the judge or the cop.

sailor
Premium
join:2003-10-21
Long Island
kudos:6

1 recommendation

reply to Chinabound
said by Chinabound:

I warn people sometimes, but, I'm sorry - you were a fool to flash your lights so soon after passing the cops. Common sense should tell you and everyone else that turning your lights on and off, or flashing your brights to warn others of a speed trap is against the law without having to confirm that it indeed is unlawful. Of course it would be.

The sarcasm didn't help you. Had you apologized, admitted your ignorance about that law, and not been sarcastic by demonstrating the difference between on and off to a cop, you might have simply received a warning.

I also wonder about you people that keep a camera running on your dashboard.
Seems both provocative and paranoid.
Well said!


Mospaw
My socks don't match.
Hawaiian Jellyfish
join:2001-01-08
Mile-High
kudos:1

1 recommendation

reply to erkme73
I asked a friend who happened to be a police officer in Florida about this a few years ago.

His answer was that any signal to another driver, whether flashed headlights, or something else, could be construed as interfering with a law enforcement officer. And that's the reason the law was written and the reason tickets get written.

It seems a bit shaky to me (I even told him I thought that was BS), but that's the closest "official" answer I ever got.

Bottom line: in Florida, be really careful about how often you switch from lo to hi beam and vice versa. (I had a Lincoln that had the auto-dim and sometimes it would get confused and flash 'em a few times. I turned that feature off due to paranoia about getting a ticket from an overzealous peace officer.)

erkme73

join:2009-12-02
I have several LEO in my immediate family - and a retired detective living next door. All of them said there is no law that makes warning of speed traps illegal. The retired detective said he'd threatened the "interfering with an investigation" term when kids in poor areas were setting up signs - but even he admitted that wouldn't hold up in court due to free speech.

I think my biggest hurdle will be articulating the fact that 316.2397 has to do with lights which are designed to flash. Not headlights that are turned on and off. Flashing lights describes lights that flash (turn signals, stobes, light bars, etc), not someone flashing (verb) their lights. If not, then pulsing your breaks, causing your brake lights to come on and off rapidly would also be illegal.

Mospaw - my Tundra does the same thing on overcast days... switches between parking lights only and headlights often.


BonezX
Basement Dweller
Premium
join:2004-04-13
Canada
kudos:1
reply to Mospaw
said by Mospaw:

I asked a friend who happened to be a police officer in Florida about this a few years ago.

His answer was that any signal to another driver, whether flashed headlights, or something else, could be construed as interfering with a law enforcement officer. And that's the reason the law was written and the reason tickets get written.

It seems a bit shaky to me (I even told him I thought that was BS), but that's the closest "official" answer I ever got.

Bottom line: in Florida, be really careful about how often you switch from lo to hi beam and vice versa. (I had a Lincoln that had the auto-dim and sometimes it would get confused and flash 'em a few times. I turned that feature off due to paranoia about getting a ticket from an overzealous peace officer.)
aren't law enforcement officers supposed to keep their cars visible, watching that it looks like he's just sitting there.

could claim that you thought it was a derelict vehicle in the center of the road and you were warning motorists about it.


CylonRed
Premium,MVM
join:2000-07-06
Bloom County
Apparently it was visible to you - you saw the car. At most they are requires to have is parking lights in most places but then I have known several cops where I live that said the myth of getting out of a ticket for a police car not having lights on - is a myth. I know of no reason why they can't hide and they do quite well depending on where you live.

First time I drove thru Georgia I would not tell what was a cop because the lights were inside the car.
--
Brian

"It drops into your stomach like a Abrams's tank.... driven by Rosanne Barr..." A. Bourdain

sailor
Premium
join:2003-10-21
Long Island
kudos:6

1 recommendation

reply to BonezX
Looked to me like a couple of them were in the median. On the Long Island Expressway one will always see a couple of cops in the median with their cars next to one another so they can talk to one another. Share a donut or whatever.

My personal take on this situation is the OP was on a highway with 3 lanes in one direction with a median ( just like the Long Island Expressway has in many sections )

If you look at the flashing or turning on and off of his lights he actually is causing a safety hazard condition on the highway as his actions now have the attention of those drivers going in the SAME direction as he is...Those behind him suddenly see lights from his vehicle go out ..then on..same thing the drivers in front of him looking in the rear view mirror see.

So now those drivers around him have their attention diverted from driving to being made nervous wondering who is this drunk ahead or behind me who can't figure out if his headlights are on or off? ( to give an example of the hazard he caused )

If you're on a 2 lane highway with traffic in both directions then sure flash them once or twice max but not when your traveling on a expressway like highway with 3 lanes of traffic in one direction with a median separating on coming traffic from the traffic he was in.


Lone Wolf
Retired
Premium
join:2001-12-30
USA
kudos:1
reply to erkme73
OT

In Philly the cops ride around trying to pick up teenage boys for sex. Somebody should have blinked their lights at this pervert.

»www.philly.com/inquirer/local/ph···een.html

quote:
Phila. officer charged in soliciting teen

By Troy Graham

Inquirer Staff Writer
A veteran Philadelphia police officer has been charged with soliciting an undercover officer he thought was a teenage boy, authorities said yesterday.

The yearlong investigation began after a 15-year-old Northeast Philadelphia boy told police that a man had approached him and offered money to take nude photographs, Chief Inspector Anthony DiLacqua told reporters. The boy refused, but he later saw the same man driving around the neighborhood. He copied down the license plate and contacted police.

erkme73

join:2009-12-02
reply to sailor
The blinking was less than a second off... I slowed the video down so the judge can see the contrast between on and off.


Lurch77
Premium
join:2001-11-22
Oconto, WI
kudos:4
What was with the excuse of your lights flickering? You really think he was going to buy that? You put yourself on the wrong side of his attitude from the start.

erkme73

join:2009-12-02
Yes, had I known that it wasn't illegal - had he not lied and told me it was - I would have probably been a little less nervous, a little more confident, and more straight forward.

I recently changed the headlights, and the driver's side bulb must not be in all the way. Bumps in the road cause the beam to bounce (slightly). Turning them on/off verified that the flickering was coming from my lights. Well, that's the excuse I wanted to use, had he let me explain myself.


DarkSithPro

join:2005-02-12
Tempe, AZ
kudos:2
reply to erkme73
What a chicken shi* ticket. The Cop was a douche. A light infraction? LOL. Well obviously he wasn't having much luck if he went after you, instead of catching a dangerous speeder.


Omega
Displaced Ohioan
Premium
join:2002-07-30
Denver, CO
reply to erkme73
I just want to say, good for you that you tried to notify other cars about the trap!

Whenever I see a speed trap ahead of me, I always pump my brake lights (even if I am not speeding) to warn the people behind me.
--
Whats smells like blue?