Free speech and flashing headlights

Monday, September 19, 2011

USA Today reports on a class-action lawsuit in Florida that claims Erich Campbell’s free-speech rights were violated in 2009 when he was ticketed after flashing his headlights to warn oncoming traffic about two state highway patrol cruisers near the Tampa airport.

“The flashing of lights to communicate with another driver is clearly speech,” J. Marc Jones, Campbell’s attorney, told the newspaper.

USA Today also quotes First Amendment Center scholar David L. Hudson Jr.: “The First Amendment protects all sorts of non-verbal conduct; it protects more than the spoken or printed word. Courts have found that a wide variety of actions — such as honking one’s horn or flashing one’s headlights — are forms of communication under the First Amendment.”