Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Flashing Light to Warn of Speed Trap is Free Speech

Judge Dismisses Headlight Flashing Citation

A Williamson County judge has dismissed a Franklin police citation against a man who warned other drivers of a speed trap.

He flashed his lights at them.

Harley “Bill” Walker says it cost him about a thousand dollars to appeal a

City Court judge’s ruling against him.

County Judge Russ Heldman yesterday ruled Walker was right about the citation violating his free speech guarantees.

Officer Chris Marlowe wrote him a ticket for interfering with a police officer’s duties on August 14th.

The Franklin city police chief has now written a memo to officers, telling them not to cite drivers for flashing their lights in warning.

Heldman invited appeal of his ruling, saying it’s an issue scholars may want to investigate.

For his part, Walker is pleased to win his case, but says he’ll flash only his brights next time. He says the only way Marlowe knew he was flashing his lights was because his tail lights were going on and off.

(Copyright 2003, AP)