New law permits headlight flashing, possible loophole?
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
FORT MYERS - It's now legal in Florida to flash your brights to warn other drivers that police are checking for speeders.
The new law went into effect Jan. 1 after thousands of people were ticketed for flicking their head lights. But some say the law might have a loophole.
"I think it was a misuse of power," said Dana Dineen in 2011. Back then, he showed us a ticket for $165 for "improperly adjusted headlights" after admitting he flashed his brights to warn other drivers about a speed trap on Alligator Alley.
"She said, 'What do you think you're doing?," said Dineen. "I said, 'Well I wasn't aware I was doing anything illegal.' And she said, 'Well we're just trying to do our job here.'"
Over the past few years, police have issued thousands of tickets until a judge ruled last year that flashing your brights is considered free speech.
"I do it all the time," said Fort Myers attorney Janese Caruthers. "It's second nature."
Caruthers has successfully defended drivers busted for warning others about speed traps. She says police were misinterpreting the law and says the new statute, now in effect, clears up any confusion.
"It is legal to flash your high beams for any reason that you want," said Caruthers. "As long as you do it to communicate with another driver."
Caruthers says the law may have some loopholes. For instance, it is illegal to have your brights on 500 feet from an oncoming car or 300 feet if you're behind someone.
Caruthers doesn't think that will matter here.
"This isn't what the law is designed for," she said. "This law is specifically dealing with flashing lights."
"It's some commonly done," she added. "It should not be illegal. It does not hurt anybody."
Caruthers says the Florida Highway Patrol as misinterpreting the original law, which she says was designed to prevent drivers from having strobe lights or other official looking emergency lights on their car.