Support Local Journalism. Join Riverfront Times Press Club.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

ACLU: Ellisville Illegally Prosecuting Drivers Who Flash Headlights, Charging $1,000 Fines

Posted By on Wed, Apr 17, 2013 at 2:00 PM

Page 2 of 2

It's a First Amendment right to communicate with other drivers this way, Rothert says, arguing that traffic laws are about promoting safety -- not generating revenue.

"Police are punishing someone because of their communication," he says.


The complaint also notes that the law in question is called (emphasis ours): "Limitations on Lamps Other than Headlamps - Flashing Signals Prohibited Except on Specified Vehicles." That means, according to the ACLU, this driver didn't even violate statute.

Either way, the practice is unconstitutional, says Rothert.

He also notes that the Missouri Department of Revenue, which is responsible for the licensing of drivers in the state, specifically recommends that drivers flash their headlamps to warn others of emergencies.

"It's something that a lot of people do," he says.

The complaint summarizes the problem this way:

Upon information and belief, it is a widespread practice of the City of Ellisville to pull over, detain, and cite individuals who are perceived as having communicated to oncoming traffic that a speed-trap is ahead by flashing their headlamps, and then prosecute and impose fines upon those individuals.

In addition, the widespread practice includes citing and prosecuting individuals for violation of an ordinance that no reasonable officer would believe the individuals had violated, without reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe they had violated any law, and in retaliation for the individuals having engaged in conduct protected by the First Amendment.

Here's the full court document, filed yesterday.

ACLU Complaint

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin.

Tags: , ,

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

September 22, 2021

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

© 2021 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation