New Florida Law Change Permits Headlight Flashing Warnings

Flashing your headlights to alert oncoming drivers that police and speed traps are upcoming will no longer be illegal in Florida.

This provision is one of many motor vehicle law taking effect on January 1, 2013.  Other law changes include allowing homeless people to get free state identification cards and two new specialty license plates. It also would for the first time permit the state to issue specialty driver licenses and ID cards.

Florida attorney J. Marcus Jones filed suit on behalf og Erich Campbell who was cited for violating an existing law that says “flashing lights are prohibited on vehicles” except for turn signals.

The lawsuit asserts that the Florida Department of Highway Patrol had been misinterpreting that section in Florida’s traffic code as it was meant only to ban drivers from having strobe lights and/or official-looking emergency vehicle lights on their personal cars and trucks.

To clear up any ambiguity, the new law amends that provision to specifically allow motorists to flash their headlights at an oncoming vehicle regardless of intent.

A Pinellas County judge dismissed Campbell’s $115 ticket issued by Highway Patrol for such an infraction.

The judge presiding over the lawsuit by Campbell is now saying that the issue is moot because of the change in the law.  But Jones is asking  Circuit Judge Kevin Carroll to reconsider because of the loopholes he believes the new law contains.  Jones said police still can use other sections of Florida’s traffic code to ticket motorists for flashing their headlights. Those provisions include prohibitions against using high beams within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle or within 300 feet of a vehicle ahead. The new exception for flashing headlights doesn’t apply to those parts of the traffic code, Jones said.

If he can get Judge Carroll to change his mind, Jones then could seek class-action status and try to get refunds for an estimated 2,400 motorists who paid fines for flashing their high beams between 2005 and 2010.

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