Oregon Judge Rules That Flashing Headlights Is Free Speech

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(PCM) In a case that has me a little bit confused, an Oregon judge has ruled that flashing your car headlights at another vehicle is considered to be freedom of speech, at least on the road.

Here’s the story for the case in Oregon: A driver named Chris Mills was delivering a truckload of logs to southern Oregon and a sheriff’s deputy was traveling behind him. Mills flashed his headlights to warn drivers of a UPS truck that was traveling from the opposite direction.

The deputy pulled Mills over and cited him with a $260 dollar fine for improper use of his headlights because yet another deputy had witnessed Mills flashing his headlights from behind the UPS truck. That deputy notified the other deputy who was traveling behind Mills so that he would pull him over and get him to stop his signaling.  Phew! Got all that?

Mills decided he was going to fight the ticket and when the case went to court the judge ruled that Mills use of his headlights was protected under the rights of free speech and the deputy’s use of the law was actually unconstitutional. Mills was able to prove in court, acting as his own attorney, that there was no law banning the use of headlights as a way to communicate with other drivers on the road.

Apparently Oregon is not the first state to legalize the use of headlight flashing as a form of road communication between drivers. There have been similar cases that fell under free speech protection in both Missouri and Florida. Also, the state of New Jersey is proposing a new bill that would make it legal to flash your headlights at other drivers to warn them about police activity in the area.

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