Warn Drivers of Cop Ahead by Flashing Your Lights, Legal or Not
I heard someone complaining recently that they'd been pulled over for warning drivers about a Louisiana State Trooper running radar. They'd flashed their headlights to warn motorists headed in the opposite direction that the officer was just ahead. The person said that the officer who pulled them over, claimed that "flashing your headlights is considered impersonating a police officer" which is a highway violation in the state of Louisiana and one can be ticketed for doing so. But the officer was nice enough to let them off with just a warning. So is this correct? Can you be ticketed for warning oncoming traffic to slow down to avoid getting a ticket?
If you check your car manual, some manufacturers consider flashing your vehicle's headlights as an "optical horn". You might be warning other drivers of danger ahead, reminding them they forgot to turn on their headlights, or alerting them of a speed trap ahead.
In some states, flashing your headlights is no big deal but in Louisiana, you'd better not get caught doing it because there is a cop ahead.
Senior Trooper Brett Davis with the Louisiana State Police told KTBS 3 News, if you want to save folks who may be speeding the cost of a ticket, you'd better be prepared to pay one yourself.
The motorist that do that need to be prepared for the consequences that come with that-Brett Davis
According to Louisiana statute 32.327c, unless you are warning a motorist of a road hazard ahead, it is illegal to flash your headlights.
In 2012 Michael Elli of Missouri was ticketed for warning drivers about a distant speed trap. The fine was $1000 but Elli fought it in federal court and won. According to Stephen Babcock, a Louisiana Injury Attorney, the judge ruled in favor of Eli.
In that case, the judge ruled that drivers have a First Amendment right to flash their headlights to warn oncoming vehicles about speed traps.-StephenBabcock.com
Louisiana laws about flashing your headlights virtually mimic those of Missouri. So, the same question, is it legal or not?
Is Using Your Brights To Warn Drivers of Police Against The Law?
If you flash your lights to warn motorists of an officer running radar ahead, that is illegal and is a ticketed offense in the state of Louisiana. But, as proven in Missouri, the right judge could dismiss your case if it goes to court. Or, as aforementioned, the officer who pulls you over may just give you a warning and set you on your merry way. Or, you may never ever get caught in this lifetime. You never know.
We all want to be nice from time to time, but flashing your headlights to warn other motorists of a State Trooper ahead is risky and may not be the time or place to be nice.