JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Have you ever flashed the lights on your vehicle, warning other drivers about a speed trap? Eric Campbell did, and then he got a ticket for it. Now, he's suing, because he said he had the legal right to do it.
"I just cleared them by 200 feet or so, and I turned my lights off and on and off several times to signal them to check their speed and watch out, and it wasn't 60 seconds later they were on my tail and pulled me over," Campbell said.
Campbell is one of many drivers Florida Highway Patrol, and other law enforcement agencies in Florida, have pulled over and cited for blowing the cover on their speed radar operations.
He said, "Of course I didn't know any better, what was legal or what was illegal."
Campbell said he later learned it is not illegal. So, he filed a class action suit which stated Florida Statue 316.2397, under which Campbell was sighted, does not prohibit the flashing of headlights as a means of communications nor does it in any way reference flashing headlights, or the use of high beams.
Jacksonville Attorney Dale Carson agrees. "Is it our First Amendment right to flash our lights. Absolutely, you can warn anybody about anything."
Carson goes a step further and said he would defend someone who was blatantly holding a sign, warning drivers about speed traps. "I would defend you and protect you in your right to say that, to hold that sign."
Since 2005, state records show more than 10,429 drivers have been cited under the statute. In addition to seeking the refund of the $100 ticket, the lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $15,000 per plaintiff. That would cost taxpayers $156,435,000 in damages if the suit is successful, plus at least another $1,042,900 in ticket refunds.
Captain Mark Welch of FHP could not comment directly on this lawsuit, but he said these numbers can be misleading. He said just because a motorist was cited, there are a number of other violations under this statue, such as having red or blue lights in your car.
Captain Welch said because of the lawsuit, he could not tell First Coast News if FHP is still pulling people over for flashing their lights.
First Coast News