Truckers have been doing it for years. Out of courtesy to a passing rig, a truck driver will flash the headlights to indicate an all clear to move in front. Based on the Florida Traffic Code, the flashing of headlights is a violation, but obvious only at the descretion of an observing police officer. A college student in Land O'Lakes, Florida, was cited for flashing headlights to warn on-coming motorists of a police officer running radar last yeat.
The student contacted an attorney and lawsuit was a filed with the State of Florida stating that the code was ambiguous and it violated the Fourteenth Amendment right to due process. The lawsuit also argued that the flashing of headlights was a form of speech protected by the First Amendment.
Citing the case of the truckers, the flashing of the headlights conveys the message that it is safe to pull back into the slow lane. Using this argument, the student was telling on-coming mototists to "slow down". The attorney agrues that the flashing is clearly a form of communications protected by free speech and therefore a clear violation of individual rights protected by the United States Constitution. Bottom line is that it is no longer illegal to flash your headlights to warn fellow mototists that the police are lurking down the road.
This lawsuit has sent a message to the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles to revisit the statute and rewrite the law to eliminate the confusion for police officers. Fine tuning this law includes rewriting the provision that allows officers to get around the old law concerning the use of high beams within 500 feet of other motorists. Every law ever enacted has a purpose in dictating how citizens are expected to conform in a civilized society. Most laws written are prohibitive, such as "thou shall not..." There a few laws that are written as compeling such as to pay taxes or have a license.
The law concerning the flashing of lights on any vehicle was to prevent a citizen from imitating that of an emergency vehicle. The current law also prohibits any moving vehicle from using a blue light and designates the flashing of red or yellow to emergency vehicles only. Clearly under the current law, the flashing of yellow hazard lights on a moving vehicle is a violation. Motorists in heavy fog or a rain storm on the interstate use hazard lights out of fear of being rear-ended and few, if any, ever are cited. Cyclist use flashing red lights for the same reason and few are cited.
When the student's lawsuit was filed last year, the Florida Highway Patrol ceased issuing citations for headlight flashing. According to authorities, there have been 2440 citations issued during the period 2005 to 2008 for headlight flashing and the lawsuit may require the DMV to reimburse the costs and remove the points on the cited motorists record. The fine is approximately $118. Do not hold your breath on this action.
Other new laws passed for the upcoming year include the use of a golf cart on sidewalks that are atleast 5 feet wide. Playing loud music in a motor vehicle is no longer prohibited and resulted from a similar lawsuit citing freedom of speech. Also new is that driver's license renewal notifications will be sent out by email rather than postal service to save the cost of mailing. Fines have been increased for violations involving prostitution. Enacted is a new law called the Florida Safe Harbor Act which requires the police to turn over children to the Department of Children and Families when sexual abuse is suspected.
For veterans in Florida who served in Vietnam and those awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, the new law will allow them to purchase this recognition in a specialty license plate.
Stay safe and enjoy the new year in the great State of Florida, ya'all.