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Judge Says You Can Warn Others About Speed Traps

Soulskill posted about 10 months ago | from the another-thing-to-tweet-about-while-driving dept.

Transportation 457

cartechboy writes "Speeding is against the law, and yes, even going 5 mph over the speed limit is breaking the law. But everyone does it, right? What about when you see a cop? Some cops are ticketing people for notifying fellow motorists about speed traps. In Florida, Ryan Kintner simply flashed his high-beams to warning oncoming cars that there was a cop ahead. He was given a ticket for doing so. He went to court to fight the ticket, and a judge ruled that flashing lights are the equivalent of free speech, thus he had every right to flash his lights to warn oncoming cars."

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Common sense? In MY judiciary? (4, Informative)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 10 months ago | (#46165641)

I bet some police officers are mighty pissed off about this ruling, but as someone who frequently drives with the lights on to warn fellow motorists of speed traps, I am pleased.

Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46165701)

Couldn't this guy have avoided the whole lawsuit by simply saying he was warning oncoming drivers that they were driving too fast (for safety) by flashing his headlights, as opposed to flashing his lights to warn them of speed trap ahead?

Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46165753)

No because Mr. Piggie would have seen that as a flimsy excuse for the same behavior and same goal.

Technically yes, of course, but I don't believe for a second that "I was warning them that they were speeding, not that there is a speed trap" by using a widely recognized sign for "speed trap" would work very well.

Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (5, Insightful)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | about 10 months ago | (#46165889)

I don't see how this is different from warning people not to break other laws.

If I say to someone who is under investigation by law enforcement for trafficking narcotics "Hey, you shouldn't do that, you might get in trouble", am I committing a crime?

If my wife is driving and we are, unbeknownst to me, approaching a speed trap and I warn her to slow down, am I committing a crime?

If they pull me over for this, what do they charge me with?

Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46166031)

If I see someone murdering someone else, I'll be sure to not say "Hey you, don't murder."

Conspiracy to speed (4, Insightful)

Etherwalk (681268) | about 10 months ago | (#46166135)

I don't see how this is different from warning people not to break other laws.

The difference is in this case you are warning people that they will get caught for breaking a law, and they will get caught in about a minute if they don't stop--as opposed to a more general "you shouldn't deal drugs because EVENTUALLY someone will catch you." Philosophically, it's like telling a drug dealer "hide your stash because a cop is coming."

The only difference is that this is a more widespread behavior, so people are generally more okay with it. It's still basically conspiracy (in this case, conspiracy to break the speed limit), and it carries jailtime if they want to pursue it. (The judge here may have bought the free speech argument--more likely, he didn't want to risk getting overturned on appeal. Either way, it doesn't mean every judge will.)

Vive la difference! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46166321)

...The difference is in this case you are warning people that they will get caught for breaking a law, and they will get caught in about a minute if they don't stop--as opposed to a more general "you shouldn't deal drugs because EVENTUALLY someone will catch you."

So ... if I see someone starting a fight in a bar, and I try and cool it down by shouting to him "Don't be an idiot! There's a cop outside in the street!" .... I should be done for... what, exactly?

Re:Vive la difference! (4, Funny)

NFN_NLN (633283) | about 10 months ago | (#46166361)

So ... if I see someone starting a fight in a bar, and I try and cool it down by shouting to him "Don't be an idiot! There's a cop outside in the street!" .... I should be done for... what, exactly?

... ruining other patrons entertainment value.

Re:Conspiracy to speed (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46166355)

I prefer it being legal to warn people. It's one way as an ordinary driver to get idiots to slow the fuck down. I flash my lights and they slow, and hunt for, non-existent cops.

Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 10 months ago | (#46166209)

I don't see how this is different from warning people not to break other laws.

Well, if I tell you "don't kill, don't steal, don't speed" before your commute to work.. sure, that's one thing.

On the other hand, what you're doing in this scenario is more akin to "if you're going to speed, which you shouldn't be doing anyway, don't do it here and now because here and now they will actively try to catch you doing so".

It's a bit more like telling a warning a bunch of burglars that the neighborhood watch is approaching. Sure, you're 'just' telling them not to break in... but it's more like "if you're gonna break in and don't want to get caught, then don't break in right here, right now", which means the burglars will move on to a different area or try again some other night.

And no, you can't really compare the two (victimless unless you hit somebody vs definite victim, something people tend to do themselves quite regularly and get pissed off about when they get caught cursing to the heavens above and looking up how to get out of a speeding ticket first thing they get to a computer and don't really care too much about other people doing vs something that most people don't do and rather loathe"), but since you didn't see a difference...

Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (1)

NEDHead (1651195) | about 10 months ago | (#46166267)

Back seat driving?

Failure to Pay Toll (3, Insightful)

Inev (3059243) | about 10 months ago | (#46166301)

If my wife is driving and we are, unbeknownst to me, approaching a speed trap and I warn her to slow down, am I committing a crime?

If they pull me over for this, what do they charge me with?

Failure to Pay Toll

Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 10 months ago | (#46166011)

Couldn't this guy have avoided the whole lawsuit by simply saying he was warning oncoming drivers that they were driving too fast (for safety) by flashing his headlights, as opposed to flashing his lights to warn them of speed trap ahead?

Actually, he could have easily avoided this lawsuit by not filing it. The charges where dropped by the city so it would have died there had he not filed suit in federal court.

Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (4, Insightful)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 10 months ago | (#46166115)

Couldn't this guy have avoided the whole lawsuit ...

Actually, he could have easily avoided this lawsuit by not filing it. The charges where dropped by the city so it would have died there had he not filed suit in federal court.

But now this sets a precedent that may be referenced in other cases. Whether it helps is another matter, of course.

Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46166155)

I'm glad he filed it, now we have precedent.

Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46166187)

I don't think that was the point. He probably was not trying to avoid the fine, but send a message to the cops that they have the right to enforce the law as equally as people who haven't committed any crime or part of any suspected group have the right to express that there are cops coming or nearby. It is to remind the cops of their place. The cops are not there to patronize citizens who have not committed anything against the laws. I would think America need more people like this.

Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (4, Informative)

lgftsa (617184) | about 10 months ago | (#46165781)

The Australian road rules sidesteps the "warning" issue:

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/l... [austlii.edu.au]

  AUSTRALIAN ROAD RULES - REG 218
Using headlights on high-beam
218 Using headlights on high-beam

        (1) The driver of a vehicle must not use the vehicleâ(TM)s headlights on high-beam, or allow the vehicleâ(TM)s headlights to be used on high-beam, if the driver is driving:

                (a) less than 200 metres behind a vehicle travelling in the same direction as the driver, or

                (b) less than 200 metres from an oncoming vehicle.

                Penalty: Offence provision.

                Note: "High-beam" and "oncoming vehicle" are defined in the dictionary.

        (2) However, if the driver is overtaking a vehicle, the driver may briefly switch the headlights from low-beam to high-beam immediately before the driver begins to overtake the vehicle.

                Note: "Low-beam" and "overtake" are defined in the dictionary.

Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (2)

lgftsa (617184) | about 10 months ago | (#46165845)

Whoops, that was from the repealed/superseded regulations list. It's still illegal in Queensland and NSW, though. Here's the _current_ Qld rules:

A driver must not switch headlights to high beam if another vehicle is closer than 200m in front of the driver's vehicle.

A driver may flash the headlights briefly before overtaking another vehicle.

Drivers must ensure that they do not dazzle other road users.

Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (2)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 10 months ago | (#46165901)

So don't use your high-beams, just quickly turn the low beams on and off.

Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46166007)

So don't use your high-beams, just quickly turn the low beams on and off.

That is the more polite and less-blindy way to do that anyway

Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46166265)

The problem is that turning your lights entirely off typically shuts off your break lights as well, and if you have passed the speed trap (so the officer is behind you) this lets the officer know that you are alerting oncoming drivers.

However fog lights typically work well for this, and the officer behind you will be completely unaware, and when it is them the middle of the day it is more visible to oncoming traffic than your lights changing brightness (might just think you hit a bump in the road).

Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (4, Funny)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 10 months ago | (#46166053)

Drivers must ensure that they do not dazzle other road users.

You mean I can't use my amazing dance moves?

Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | about 10 months ago | (#46165953)

This doesn't seem like a big deal, you just flash your low-beams or fog lamps instead.

Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (4, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 10 months ago | (#46166199)

In the US our constitution usually trumps all other law. Look to the old "Jim Crowe" laws we used to have. They were basically like this, rules that at first appearence appeared to be meant to do one thing but what they actually did was infringe on constiutional rights. They were all struck down eventually.

So a cop could ticket you here for unlawful use of your lights, but the very fact that the police had setup a speed trap would make flashing them legal, because you were no longer using the lights to illuminate the highway but instead making a statement and invoking your right to free speech. In our country "Free speech" is upheld as the ultimate right... not to be infringed upon accept in very dire situations. For example the "Shouting fire in a crowded theater" scenario. The police would have to prove that the flashing of your lights posed a significant hazard to the public to get the ticket to stick.

Lastly I'd like to point out that all of this is somewhat irrelevant. The police can badger you into submission by simply ticketing you for this every time, and then taking it to court every time. Though it may get struck down, the legal battle would cost you time and money.

Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46165805)

I bet some police officers are mighty pissed off about this ruling, but as someone who frequently drives with the lights on to warn fellow motorists of speed traps, I am pleased.

A police officer getting pissed? Over what? Changes like this should not affect their day to day job. And if they're getting that emotional over it, then they need to find another job. I cannot trust a person who gets that emotionally charged in a position where neutrality is key in making sound judgements that affect people's entire lives.

Re: Common sense? In MY judiciary? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46166073)

the reason the cops will not be pleased, is because of the "totally not really a thing(tm)" ticket quotas they get slapped with when the local municipal govt overspends on its budget, like it always does.

the city of course asserts that no such ticket quotas happen, and that they are an urban legend, however, my dad was of the police bacon variety for 25 years, and speaks with authority that yes, ticket quotas are real, and that there are punishments for not meeting them.

if the goal of the policeman is to basically do a shakedown on people in the name of public safety, (when in reality, the posted speed limits have shit little to do with modern highway safety, and have even been shown to be a safety HAZARD when followed in many areas-- making the "safe" speed the same as that of the rest of the flow of traffic, not what is posted), then of course they will be upset when motorists are allowed to warn of said shakedowns.

it's simple.

city says "write this many tickets, or suffer consequences" (then lies about it to the public)

cop has strong incentive to write as many tickets as possible.

city has highway speed limits posted dating from the 1950s and 1960s, intended for 2 lane highways being enforced on multi-lane metro traffic arteries, and does not want to update them because they are lucrative.

cops now have motorists warning each other about the shakedowns going on, and will be more likely to fail at meeting the "mythical" ticket quotas.

of course, the cops have the "my word against yours" thing going on with city officials, and cant prove that they get defacto enforced penalties for not meeting the "supposed" quotas, and besides, even if treated seriously, who is going to investigate and rule on the matter? both parties that would normally perform that service have outstanding interest in the matter.

so, caught in that nasty legal limbo, with a "so totally not really a requirement, honest!" requirement that now may not be met, you can bet that local city cops with traffic radar guns are going to be be snitty about this.

from the sounds of it, this was not a municipal judge that decided this case.

that's the difference here.

Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46165841)

I bet some police officers are mighty pissed off about this ruling, but as someone who frequently drives with the lights on to warn fellow motorists of speed traps, I am pleased.

Yes, it is "free speech" to inform other motorists of speed limit violetion checks from the police, and the judge was right to allow it... BUT people should have the common sense to stop doing it - then they may save other people (those that they inform about the checks and/or others) from death because of their speed limit violetion!

Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (-1, Flamebait)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 10 months ago | (#46166035)

No, it is not "Free Speech". It is criminal informant behavior. The issue here is what is the stretch of what is and is not reasonable to slap state secrecy on.

For example, warning others that the guy walking down the street in the rain is a police officer posing as one of the dozens of people who pass by an hour as a walking wire (i.e. there's always 8 or 10 people in this 10 meter stretch; 1 or 2 of them is an undercover cop, and they're using listening devices to pick up the narcotics sale going on at an outside dining table) should be a crime. Why? Direct interference with a covert operation.

A cop sitting just over a hill with a radar gun is not covert. A fixed speed camera--even hidden--is also not a covert operation because it can be readily discovered. A cop sitting at the next dining table in plain clothes will be gone before pattern behavior identifies him as a cop: you need advanced knowledge--i.e. that that particular person is a police officer, as well as the knowledge that a covert operation is in progress--to discover that you're being eaves dropped upon. A fixed camera can and will be discovered eventually just out of course, as will a police cruiser hanging out at the edge of a parking lot facing traffic.

In these case, you are discussing--through flickering headlights, conveying such information--public, visible, open police activities. These are not secret things; they are not likely to force criminals deep into hiding or set back a major drug cartel bust by months or years, and they certainly aren't going to get anyone killed. They're open, public activities. That means they're open for public discussion, at all times.

This is not a "free speech" issue--we have free speech, and besides it doesn't cover shouting out that a cop in the alley carrying out a cocaine sting is wearing a wire. This is a matter of discussing police operations. As the operations are public, non-secret operations, there is no standing to take any action against anyone who relays this publicly-accessible information.

Think about it as if the government had chosen not to publish the existence or operations of Area 51, but ran a public road through it. Having, with no clearance, thousands of people per day passing through, they could not claim state secret for talking about anything seen while driving through Area 51. It would be legally unenforceable. Same thing.

Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (5, Insightful)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 10 months ago | (#46166157)

No, it is not "Free Speech". It is criminal informant behavior.

Apparently, you're incorrect. I just read somewhere that a Judge ruled it Free Speech. :-)

Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (5, Insightful)

The_Wilschon (782534) | about 10 months ago | (#46165929)

Seems as though the police should actually want people to know about the speed traps. I mean, the ultimate goal for the police is to have everyone follow the law. If people know about an upcoming speed trap, then they'll slow down to the speed limit. If they don't know about the speed trap, then they'll continue to endanger those around them by driving too fast. </delightfully naive> Of course, we all know that what the police really want is ticket revenue. The more law breakers there are, the more revenue they get, and hence they will try to stop people from warning others to obey the law. This system is rather broken.

Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (3, Informative)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 10 months ago | (#46166081)

Way back in the day, The RAC (breakdown rescue club) used to have uniformed drivers who were famous for saluting motorists - the reason they did so was not to be polite, but to warn them of upcoming speed traps - if they didn't salute, you slowed down. Of course, this didn't count as warning the motorist as the RAC man hadn't done anything... literally.

I guess the point about trying to catch speeding drivers is that these are the ones who will speed up after they've gone past the trap and continue to be dangerous - best to catch them and take note of who they are so they can be banned after they've been caught enough times.

Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (4, Insightful)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 10 months ago | (#46166085)

Seems as though the police should actually want people to know about the speed traps. I mean, the ultimate goal for the police is to have everyone follow the law. If people know about an upcoming speed trap, then they'll slow down to the speed limit.

Sorry, that argument doesn't work. Supposedly the idea isn't just to make you drive the speed limit at the speed trap, it's to make you drive the speed limit *everywhere* because you don't know where the speed traps are.

Fine x Probability of Being Caught = Incentive (4, Interesting)

Etherwalk (681268) | about 10 months ago | (#46166215)

Seems as though the police should actually want people to know about the speed traps. I mean, the ultimate goal for the police is to have everyone follow the law. If people know about an upcoming speed trap, then they'll slow down to the speed limit. If they don't know about the speed trap, then they'll continue to endanger those around them by driving too fast. </delightfully naive>

Of course, we all know that what the police really want is ticket revenue. The more law breakers there are, the more revenue they get, and hence they will try to stop people from warning others to obey the law. This system is rather broken.

You assume that the justice system is calibrated incorrectly. Ideally, the penalty for speeding is designed to disincentivize the behavior and is multiplied to make up for the discount from the low probability of getting caught. A 10% chance of a $200 ticket, for example, or a 5% chance of a $400 ticket. If you warn people where speed traps are, you change the chance of getting caught, which means the fine is no longer as effective a deterrent.

This was actually a big problem with red light cameras--they made more people get caught, which made the expected penalty MUCH higher than it should have been.

Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46166237)

In Australia, they have the audacity to actually write "For Road Safety" on the signs mentioning upcoming speed cameras. I secretly want to graffiti over them and write "For Police Revenue".

Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (1)

krups gusto (2203848) | about 10 months ago | (#46166317)

A less cynical explanation would be that the police want you to obey the speed laws everywhere.  A relatively cost effective way to do this is for drivers to expect speed traps everywhere - and thus in their paranoia always obey the law.  Only obeying the law when there's a known speed trap is ineffective unless there are speed traps everywhere - which is cost inefficient.

That said, the most cost effective way to reduce speeding would be to just don't make cars that can exceed the speed limit.  Said cars would cost less to produce since they don't need engines that can push a car to 100 miles per hour.  They'd pollute less.  And our friendly neighborhood donut eaters could focus on more important things.

Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46166351)

I mean, the ultimate goal for the police is to have everyone follow the law

BAHAHAHAHAHA. Whoo, my god that's funny. The ultimate goal for the police is making money for their jurisdiction of the traffic stops.

Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (3, Insightful)

bobbied (2522392) | about 10 months ago | (#46165961)

I bet some police officers are mighty pissed off about this ruling, but as someone who frequently drives with the lights on to warn fellow motorists of speed traps, I am pleased.

Careful there cowboy, keep your hat and boots on. This judge is only a district court judge and his authority only applies to his district (Eastern Missouri mostly). It is a good federal prescient and I'm sure his opinion would be cited in the defense of anybody who was being charged with flashing their lights, but it's not a settled matter. Other districts are certainly entitled to their own opinions and it's quite likely some judge will disagree, at which point we move up the chain.

So, if you are in the Eastern Missouri District, flash away, the courts are on your side. Outside of this, tread carefully and be ready to pay the legal fees required to push it up to your district.

Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (2)

Deadstick (535032) | about 10 months ago | (#46166057)

It is a good federal prescient

If the oncoming drivers were prescient, they wouldn't need the warning.

Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46166047)

OT, but worth it. Slashdot has announced that it will roll out beta this month and that the classic interface will only be available for "a number of months."

Please, Please, Please don't do this!

Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (2)

sconeu (64226) | about 10 months ago | (#46166285)

I just looked at the beta for the very first time... Are they serious?

MY EYES!!!! THE GOGGLES DO NOTHING!!!!!

Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (2)

JLennox (942693) | about 10 months ago | (#46166269)

Traffic tickets need to cite what law was broken. Officers can't write tickets for random activities and then let a judge decide later.

In this case it was "[a] state law that prohibits motorists from flashing after-market emergency lights, even though it's not clear that the lights Kintner used were after-market" which is clearly bullshit. It does not align with what the person did at all. I am impressed that the officer knew local code well enough to cite that specifically on the ticket.

So there is free speech after all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46165645)

Nice one judge

Re:So there is free speech after all (0)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 10 months ago | (#46165925)

Enjoy it, I'm sure it's the last freedom in America.

true (0)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about 10 months ago | (#46165659)

We need COMMUNISM to stop amerikkka's fascistic police state!!!

Re:true (2, Funny)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | about 10 months ago | (#46166029)

Communism has always resulted in expansion of freedom and in no cases resembled a police state.

Free Speech HA! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46165699)

Mouth off to a cop and see how precious your fucking rights are in Amerikkka. Fags.

Re:Free Speech HA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46165999)

AC parent:

Mouth off to a cop and see how precious your fucking rights are in Amerikkka. Fags.

Previous top-level comment, by "For a Free Internet":

We need COMMUNISM to stop amerikkka's fascistic police state!!!

Hmm. I wonder if these two might be the same poster!??! Gotta remember to always be consistent in checking that "Post Anonymously" box.

Re:Free Speech HA! (3, Interesting)

bobbied (2522392) | about 10 months ago | (#46166121)

Mouth off to a cop and see how precious your fucking rights are in Amerikkka. Fags.

Mouthing off to a cop is pretty STUPID because there is *never* an upside to it. At best it is neutral if the cop decides to ignore you, but all other outcomes go down hill from there. It's best to just be respectful, stay calm and do what they tell you. You don't have to answer any questions or consent to any searches (and I suggest you not do either), but there is absolutely no sense in mouthing off.

FIRE! (4, Interesting)

Thud457 (234763) | about 10 months ago | (#46165705)

I bet Waze is relieved that their business model is safe.

Re:FIRE! (1)

litehacksaur111 (2895607) | about 10 months ago | (#46165963)

I think this is just the first step. If more and more people adopt Waze maybe the police could focus on solving actual crimes instead of waiting around to catch people speeding or arresting people for drug violations.

Re:FIRE! (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 10 months ago | (#46166243)

Until, of course, people start speeding like mad (because given half a chance, who wouldn't want to drive way faster than allowed, given that most roads in the U.S. seem built for sessions of NASCAR re-enactment), people crash, other people get hurt, and they/their families start wondering why on Earth there's nobody and nothing (since people hate speed trap cameras even more than speed trapping actual cops) checking to make sure people are actually going the speed limit (or within some socially accepted limit above that, as is more common).

Think they'll listen? (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 10 months ago | (#46165729)

It seems like the police periodically 'forget' or ignore things they have been told are illegal, but which they'd prefer to keep doing.

Because they seem to periodically act as if they're legally allowed to delete the contents of your cell phone when you record them doing something illegal.

And, really, if they can overtly ticket you for warning of their speed trap, they'll just find something else to charge you with.

And people wonder why trust for the police is dwindling.

Re:Think they'll listen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46165823)

And the cops wonder why trust for the police is dwindling.

FTFY

Re:Think they'll listen? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46166071)

It's not because cops are bigger dicks today than they used to be. Cops were wwaayyyyy bigger dicks 40 years ago, or 70 years ago.

The difference is that long ago everybody knew their cops (or if you didn't know the cop, you were from out-of-town and nobody had any sympathy for you.) Whether you were in a city or a rural town, you still had a community--everybody knew their cops, their butchers, etc. If you had a dick cop, people could press their local politicians or community members to reign in the dick cop, either individually or collectively.

The flip side was that cops had more flexibility. If you did something illegal or stupid, the cop could rough up you, lock you up, and let you go, without threatening you with federal-pound-me-in-the-ass prison. And, yes, these things happened. Cops regularly threw beat downs(my dad and his cousins like to wax nostalgic about their adventures at the wrong end of wooden clubs), and the "bad guys" expected and appreciated it, as long as they were the same color, at least, so it was more proportional.

That situation doesn't exist anymore, for myriad reasons.

But have you ever wondered by why people reserve special hatred for highways cops, which can only be rivaled by hatred for federal law enforcement? Again, those cops are far removed from your community, so you feel (and in many case, rightly so) that there is less equity in your mutual relationship. And are more sensitive to abuses of power.

Re:Think they'll listen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46165967)

If they delete anything from my cell phone that I've created, they can enjoy paying me $150,000 per infringement. I am the copyright holder, and I decide who gets to make alterations to my copyrighted works. And the content industry doesn't want it any other way, so the police had better toe the line. And pay up. So go ahead and destroy my copyrighted works, piggie. You'll be a federally convicted criminal soon enough, and I'll ruin your finances too.

What's good for the goose is good for the gander, bitches.

Re: Think they'll listen? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46166089)

lol, ur funny

Extrajudicial punishment. (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 10 months ago | (#46165737)

This ruling won't stop cops from ticketing you, forcing you to leave work to appear in court, and paying the court costs after the ticket is dismissed. Cops can and do write invalid tickets simply to be dicks, and there's nothing you can do about it.

Our justice system needs to ensure that the victim of a false accusation of a crime is made whole again.

Re:Extrajudicial punishment. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46165839)

Cops can and do write invalid tickets simply to be dicks, and there's nothing you can do about it.

I'm surprised that more people don't vote from the rooftops.

Re:Extrajudicial punishment. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46165921)

Our justice system needs to ensure that the victim of a false accusation of a crime is made whole again.

It does have that ability. You can sue the police. It's not perfect, but if you think they're ticketing for something they *know* isn't a crime, you can sue for your losses.

Re:Extrajudicial punishment. (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 10 months ago | (#46165981)

if you think they're ticketing for something they *know* isn't a crime

Whether they know it or not is irrelevant. Every person falsely accused deserves compensation. If charges are dropped, dismissed, or you are acquitted, you deserve 100% of any costs you incurred because of the accusation.

Re:Extrajudicial punishment. (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 10 months ago | (#46166173)

What do you do about Bill Gates, who could claim tens of millions of dollars from a being pulled away from work for a day or two. Small towns would be afraid of ticketing any Mercedes or Porsches.

Re:Extrajudicial punishment. (2)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 10 months ago | (#46165977)

I'd like to see the effects of a national law saying money collected from traffic tickets like this don't go to the city or the police department. Have it go towards paying down the national debt instead. Also, number of tickets issued isn't a metric by which police officer performance can be judged.

Cities deciding to cut taxes but not spending, then trying to make up for it by writing tickets all over is a politician's solution. And a police union's solution I suppose. Raise taxes normally and/or cut your spending, cities. Hire a few IRS auditors, not a bunch more police officers with expensive pensions. Or do that second part if you must but have them on the streets looking for violent crimes. If your voters scream bloody murder when you're raising rather than cutting $5 from their taxes a year, educate them on how stupid they are. Obviously I haven't done any research on this subject, but I'd bet a parking ticket it will work out better in the long run.

A sane ruling... (2, Funny)

3vi1 (544505) | about 10 months ago | (#46165741)

A sane ruling on the matter...
and in Florida...

[Update;} I'm back from the window, but I didn't see neither a lake of fire *nor* four horsemen. :\

Re:A sane ruling... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46165773)

It's only a short matter of time before this is overturned. But you're right, I haven't seen the flying pigs yet...

Re:A sane ruling... (1)

buswolley (591500) | about 10 months ago | (#46166211)

slashdot beta designers should take note. Beta is ugly.

More than free speech (1)

djbckr (673156) | about 10 months ago | (#46165759)

I didn't read this specific article, but the Judge made the comment along the lines of: Flashing your lights is a genuine part of driving safely, therefore it shouldn't be restricted or ticketed. Otherwise people might be inclined to not flash their lights when they should.

This judge actually sounds intelligent.

Even better, use apps like Waze (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 10 months ago | (#46165765)

I use Waze all the time (though looking for a replacement since it's been bought by Google). But the idea of community driven police/road hazard warnings is really the next step in making life better for motorists. Then I'm not warning a handful of people, I'm warning everyone for the next fifteen minutes that cares to know...

Police always say they put up speed traps to slow people down so they should be fine with others being warned.

Re:Even better, use apps like Waze (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46166019)

The idea is you're supposed to be obeying the speed limit everywhere, not just where the Internet says you'll get caught.
You're all dicks.

warning of danger (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46165789)

Speedtraps can pose a substantial danger, especially at high speeds (folks slam breaks, cops pull into the left lane from a standstill, or like they like to do it in Mass, back up on the emergency lane to get back into the trap). That's why they are made illegal in some states [ca.gov] . And if there's a hazard down the road, you bet I should have a right to warn and be warned about it!

Re:warning of danger (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46165885)

This just goes to show, the motivation of the cops is NOT to keep you from speeding, it's to CATCH you speeding.

Re:warning of danger (1)

Ichijo (607641) | about 10 months ago | (#46166095)

It's perfectly safe to slam on your brakes as long as you don't lose control and as long as you aren't being tailgated. Show me a rear end collision and I'll show you someone who was driving on a road too close to a frontward vehicle, at a distance which does not guarantee that stopping to avoid collision is possible. [wikipedia.org]

Re: warning of danger (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46166293)

Do you not see the stupidity in your statement? That's like saying its okay to majorly speed as long as you don't lose control and wreck.... Uh....

Re: warning of danger (2)

Ichijo (607641) | about 10 months ago | (#46166345)

Well, the Autobahn [wikipedia.org] isn't exactly a bloodbath.

"You"? (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about 10 months ago | (#46165791)

To all those not in this jurisdiction, you simply don't exist and are only a figment of your imagination.

In Québec / canada (4, Interesting)

Fluffy the Destroyer (3459643) | about 10 months ago | (#46165803)

It happened too right here and the judge said something different but it was accepted. The guy receives a ticket for speeding. So he accepts it and goes away. While going away he flashes his headlights to say theres a cop and that same cop see's him flashing his headlights. He receives a ticket. In front of the judge the person tells him that a police officer is there for the security of the people (which is part of their main job by the way )and not give tickets for cash. So for helping a fellow officer, he was helping an officer doing so. The judge accepted in favor of the citizen because of what the person said made a lot of sense. Helping an officer is not illegal and by doing so his ticket was invalid.

Slashdot Beta: just say no (4, Insightful)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about 10 months ago | (#46165861)

dear god what's happening to the slashdot UI???

Re:Slashdot Beta: just say no (2)

dknj (441802) | about 10 months ago | (#46165913)

I thought I was the only one, this interface is horrible. Once classic slashdot is disabled, I'm gone from this site.

Re:Slashdot Beta: just say no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46166101)

I thought I was the only one...

You must be new here.

Re:Slashdot Beta: just say no (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46166185)

They shouldn't disable it, what is with this recent trend in 'modernizing' without an option for the old school look? Last time I remember; it was called themes.

Re:Slashdot Beta: just say no (1)

blackest_k (761565) | about 10 months ago | (#46166329)

To be honest I think Dice need a preview. I suggest a weeks boycott of slashdot

I think I can last a week. If enough of us stay away then they should notice the drop in traffic. prior to forcing us into slashdot beta.

I started getting the we are going to start forcing peope into slashdot beta notice today. Is it telling on a site where you can just hit reply and write. The link to tell us what you think is a mailto link?

so in order to send a message to dice I think a boycott is the only way to go and show we are serious.
so thats it for me till next wednesday. After all if they change to slashdot beta I'm out of here for good.
feel free to pass the word. If we do not work together on this its going to be unstoppable.

Re:Slashdot Beta: just say no (4, Funny)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 10 months ago | (#46166009)

I flashed my lights at you to warn you of the impending change.

Re:Slashdot Beta: just say no (1)

ThatsDrDangerToYou (3480047) | about 10 months ago | (#46166171)

I flashed my lights at you to warn you of the impending change.

Something like... [blink]o o[/blink]

Does that even work anymore?

Re:Slashdot Beta: just say no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46166059)

Slashdot has been infected by Windows 8 syndrome.

Wrong classification? (1)

Moskit (32486) | about 10 months ago | (#46165931)

I am surprised that Police accused him of warning the others with high beams. This just doesn't fly, as judge has shown.

What happens elsewhere is that you are sometimes (lawfully) ticketed for using high beams against allowed exceptions such as:
- only at night (dusk till dawn),
- only if it doesn't blind other drivers or pedestrians,
- only if there is no car coming from other direction, and no car in front (could be blinded through mirror reflection),
- in other conditions only to warn other drivers about DANGER. Police speedtrap is not considered danger by the law.

I suppose USA road law has similar rules for use of high beams. "Flashing lights" means something different as far as I could find, and the rest of road law is too complicated to find applicable section quickly.

Just don't get caught.

Find the Danger (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 10 months ago | (#46166017)

in other conditions only to warn other drivers about DANGER

Going to fast is dangerous, hence the speed limits right? So you are flashing your lights simply to warn someone they are engaging in dangerous behavior.

What kind of an abortion of a submission is this? (1)

Huntr (951770) | about 10 months ago | (#46165975)

The 1st link is to the Florida case that was resolved last year. The 2nd and 3rd links are about a Missouri case that was decided this week and only the 2nd even mentions the Florida case. The summary makes it sound like this is all about the Florida case.

The point stands, i.e., this has been ok'd in court in 2 jurisdictions, but what in the actual fuck, Soulskill?

I'm confused (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 10 months ago | (#46165993)

If the guy received a ticket then drove off and flashed his lights to warn other motorists of a speed trap, isn't the cop behind him? How did the cop see him flash his lights? Was it nighttime?

Confessions Of an Ex-SLASHDOT BETA user (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46166013)

Day 1: It wouldn't stop, the redirecting. At first I thought it was malware. Had my first drink in a long time.

Day 2: Barely had the strength to carry on as the BETA REDIRECTIONS continue.. trying not to talk to hallucinations at the bar and in the bathroom which laugh at me about these redirections.

Day 3: Discovered the BETA redirections were random, and while at first they looked somewhat usable, when I looked at me and my monitor screen in the mirror, a horrible woman with flesh hanging off of her body looked back, trying to lead me into a dance as the word BETA appeared across her rancid breasts.

Day 4: These BETA corridors go on FOREVER! On the plus side, I've taken up disassembling vehicles to corner this BETA beast and sacrifice myself rather than lead others to discovering it. I ate some red snow.

Day 5: Finding it harder to concentrate. I've ate some more of the red snow. The taste is starting to grow on me.

Day 6: This typewriter is the only entertainment I have, apart from throwing things at the walls, trying to get some response from the BETA which is now taking over my mind.

Day 7: Hahahahahha! Would you believe it? I'M STILL BEING REDIRECTED TO SLASHDOT BETA PAGES! AHAHhahahaah! Type, type, ding, ding! Wooo!

Day 8: The hallucinations are actually real! Would you believe it? They have offered to help me if I agree to work for them. I'm thinking about patenting this delicious red snow, the taste is unreal!

Day 9: Having black out sessions where I cannot remember large passings of time. Found some makeup, thought I'd paint a joker smile on my face to amuse the people only I can see!

Day 10: Productive today, part of what I wrote for my new screenplay:

I cannot opt out of Slashdot BETA!
I cannot opt out of Slashdot BETA!
I cannot opt out of Slashdot BETA!
I cannot opt out of Slashdot BETA!
I cannot opt out of Slashdot BETA!
I cannot opt out of Slashdot BETA!
I cannot opt out of Slashdot BETA!
I cannot opt out of Slashdot BETA!
I cannot opt out of Slas

(drops of blood on paper)

Nothing (Much) New Here, Move Along (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46166025)

These cases have been tried in various municipalities and at state levels. From what I can remember, they have always been ruled in favor of the light flasher, and almost always as under free speech reasons.

That said, this might be the first time I've seen it adjudicated at a federal level.

Revenue or Safety? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46166091)

This case puts the lie to arguments about safety. If driving the speed limit made everyone safe then why would the cops object to an action that makes people drive the speed limit? On the other hand, if the warning threatens revenue, the case makes perfect sense.

Glad to see the judge valued speech over dollars. Hope that sort of radical thinking catches on.

OK, that is one state (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 10 months ago | (#46166113)

What about every other state, territory, and possession?

Bet the kids in my neighborhood are happy! (4, Funny)

Petron (1771156) | about 10 months ago | (#46166119)

A summer or two ago I saw a kid holding a sign that said "Speed trap ahead!". Over the next hill was a cop, mostly hidden by some bushes. The next stop light had another kid with a sign: "Speed Trap tips" and had a jar full of cash. Good show kids, good show...

5MPH? (1)

MobSwatter (2884921) | about 10 months ago | (#46166151)

That is above the 7MPH allowance for speedometer error correct?

Re:5MPH? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46166331)

That is above the 7MPH allowance for speedometer error correct?

Tolerance, when allowed around TX and OK, is 4 mph over 40mph .. 10% if under 40 mph. Having said that every Toyota or Honda I've driven in the last decade registers 70mph when the radar reports 67mph.

If the authorities really want to reduce speeding (1)

godless dave (844089) | about 10 months ago | (#46166197)

If the authorities really want to reduce speeding, they should be happy about this. When drivers are warned of a speed trap, they slow down. Mission accomplished.

Good for the judge. (1)

wcrowe (94389) | about 10 months ago | (#46166233)

This is the problem with the continual militarization of police forces. They start to turn into jack-booted thugs, and flashing your lights becomes a matter of national security. Thirty years ago there probably wasn't a cop anywhere who would have given a hairy rodent's rear whether a motorist warned others about his presence, let alone actually go to the trouble of writing a ticket.

The police should be happy about this... (1)

cyn1c77 (928549) | about 10 months ago | (#46166249)

People flashing headlights make other drivers slow down. In fact, flashing lights make more people slow down than a cop giving out a few tickets.

Any cop living up to the motto "To serve and protect" should be happy about this.

Personally, I would rather see less ticketing for speeding and more ticketing for left-lane cloggers who refuse to move over and let faster traffic by.

Re:The police should be happy about this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46166297)

> Any cop living up to the motto "To serve and protect" should be happy about this.

Well, aside from the fact that not all police departments use that motto, I think the cops are just as likely to break the laws they're supposed to be enforcing.

More than once, I've been cruising along in the right lane at the speed limit (or maybe slightly above) and had a Highway Patrol cruiser just sail past me in the left lane, going at least 10MPH over the speed limit - no lights or siren on.

At last! (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | about 10 months ago | (#46166311)

The doctrine of porcine infallibility has been given a kick squarely in the bollocks.

Old news (1)

pjbgravely (751384) | about 10 months ago | (#46166339)

This was addressed in NY state in '94. The results was that flashing headlights was not a crime.

The funny thing is people don't flash if they think your brights are on anymore. They keep their brights on for a few seconds. That is a crime.
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