ACLU Challenges Grain Valley's Practice of Prosecuting Drivers for Flashing Headlights

Affiliate: ACLU of Missouri
December 3, 2014 1:39 pm

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ACLU of Missouri
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KANSAS CITY, MO – The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri (ACLU of Missouri) is challenging the City of Grain Valley’s policy of pulling over drivers who use their headlights to send a message to other drivers to slow down and proceed with caution. The suit was filed today in the U.S. District Court, Western District of Missouri, Western Division, on behalf of Jerry L. Jarman, Jr., a resident of Kansas.

While driving in Grain Valley, a suburb of Kansas City, Mr. Jarman observed a speed-trap and flashed his headlights to communicate with other drivers that they should proceed with caution. 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.

In April, 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.

“Drivers are free to use their First Amendment rights to warn others to drive cautiously and should not be punished for their message,” said Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri. “Traffic laws are made to promote safety, not generate revenue.”

“Flashing headlights is a message that is widely understood, even by new drivers,” explains Jeffrey A. Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Missouri. “The government cannot ticket drivers who have done nothing more than exercise their right to communicate with other drivers.”

A copy of the complaint can be found on the legal dockets page of the ACLU of Missouri’s website.

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