OLATHE, Kan. -- A Missouri man is making national headlines after he was ticketed for flashing his headlights to warn oncoming drivers of a speed trap. His ticket was dropped in court. But the American Civil Liberties Union is suing the town of Ellisville, a St. Louis suburb.
The ACLU said flashing your lights isn`t an obstruction of justice. FOX 4 wanted to find out if a citizen could get a ticket by alerting drivers of a speed trap in the Kansas City metro area.
“I was driving down K-7 towards K-10 and I saw a white truck pulled off to the side of the road on the other side of the highway and as I looked back I saw it was a speed trap,” motorist Jennifer Johnson said.
So Johnson said she did what she said any kind soul would do.
“I flashed my lights to let oncoming drivers know that there was a speed trap ahead,” Johnson said.
That move saddled her with a $115 ticket.
“Nowhere does it say you can’t flash your lights at oncoming vehicles,” Johnson said.
Actually, in Olathe, people aren't allowed to flash lights at all, at any time of the day, unless they fall under a certain category, like school buses, highway vehicles or maintenance vehicles.
This is written out in the city's municipal code.
However, in Kansas City, Mo. the law is much different.
“We don't have an ordinance that specifically addresses that. We've had some officers in the past that tried to apply an equipment violation. That was a little bit of a stretch and it never really caught much action in the court system," KCPD Sgt. Grant Ruark said.
Johnson believes the officer should have let her off the hook for several reasons.
“I think the purpose of speed traps is to get drivers to slow down anyway, and so isn't that what I’m doing anyway? Flashing my lights, letting them know,” Johnson said
Also, she said that flashing lights is a freedom of speech.
“We need to have that right to alert other people. Nobody wants a ticket, no one can afford it this day and age and yet I’m still getting them to slow down,” Johnson said.
Olathe police said the only way an offense like this would be considered obstruction of justice would be if the driver was flashing their lights to intentionally interfere with a police investigation. Police said that's not something they generally see.