A 38-year-old medical student is lead plaintiff in a lawsuit over tickets written by the Florida Highway Patrol for using flashing headlights to warn oncoming cars about speed traps, according to a report in the Palm Beach Post
Florida troopers have traditionally ticketed drivers that warn other vehicles of hidden speed traps by claiming they violated a state law that bars the use of flashing lights on cars, except to indicate lane changes or a disabled vehicle.
While many drivers simply pay the ticket and move on, in the last year others have begun to dispute them, maintaining that the law’s intent it to prevent people from impersonating police officers. Some judges agree: In the case of Eric Campbell, not only was the ticket dismissed, but the judge issued a written order that the ticket and statute used were unrelated.
Now J. Marc Jones, the lawyer that represented Mr. Campbell in court, is filing what he hopes will become a class-action suit that will establish that drivers flashing their headlights are exercising their free-speech rights. Jones has already found thousands of people he claims have been ticketed under the statute.
“I came up with 2,900 in the last five years,” he said, though he thinks the number may be higher, adding “I’ve heard from over 200 people who’ve been cited during the last two weeks.”
While Capt. Mark Welch, a spokesman for the highway patrol, says the number is much lower, the department has nonetheless ordered their officers to stop issuing the citations until the case is settled.
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