Missouri city agrees to stop ticketing drivers who flash headlights at speed traps

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KANSAS CITY, MO – The Grain Valley Police Department will no longer issue tickets to drivers who flash their headlights to communicate with other drivers, often times to warn them of speed traps. The announcement came after The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri sued the city of Grain Valley on behalf of Jerry L. Jarman, Jr., who complained that he flashed his headlights to communicate with other drivers that they should proceed with caution.

Jarman had noticed a a speed trap in late August 2014 in Grain Valley and flashed his lights.

He was pulled over by a Grain Valley police officer and issued a citation for allegedly “interfering with radar” by flashing headlights at oncoming drivers.

 

The lawsuit was dismissed on Friday after the parties reached a settlement.  The city of Grain Valley repealed this portion of its ordinance that individuals be ticketed for warning of speed traps, and as part of that settlement, Grain Valley paid damages to Jarman, as well as his attorneys’ fees and costs.

In April 2014, the ACLU of Missouri secured a permanent injunction from U.S. District Judge Henry Autrey against the City of Ellisville, a suburb of St. Louis, for citing drivers who flashed their headlights to warn other drivers of radar ahead.

“We are pleased that Grain Valley agrees that drivers should not be penalized for warning others to drive cautiously,” said Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri. “Flashing headlights is a readily understood way of communicating a message and is protected by the First Amendment.”

Click here for court documents.