Flashing Headlights to Warn of Police in Texas? Know This First
Chances are that you or someone you know drives a car. The roads are packed with folks making their way from here to there. This last weekend I took a road trip to the Dallas/Fort Worth area for a concert. I was making my way down a stretch of I-20 when I witnessed what we've all seen many times, flashing headlights from oncoming traffic.
What does it mean? You hear all the stories about flashing headlights at night being some part of a gang initiation. As unlikely as that is, there are reasons why another vehicle may be flashing its lights at you.
According to Lifehacker, the most common reasons are to communicate that your headlights may not be operating properly, you maybe be driving with high beams on, or there could be potential dangers ahead of you, including police with radar.
LOOK: FLASHING YOUR LIGHTS TO WARN OF POLICE AHEAD IN TEXAS? KNOW THIS FIRST
Why Headlight Flashing?
Flashing headlights has been a form of communication between drivers to relay important information about potential hazards on the road, including police, accidents, or other dangerous situations. It's usually done in a friendly way to help fellow drivers be aware of what may lie ahead.
The Law in Texas
Texas law does not explicitly address the act of flashing headlights to warn of police in the area. With that said, flashing headlights should not interfere with or disrupt law enforcement. The law does prohibit using high beams within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle or within 300 feet of a vehicle ahead.
Freedom of Speech Argument
Here's an interesting twist. Some have argued that flashing headlights falls under freedom of speech, as it involves the communication of information to other drivers. However, courts in certain states have disagreed with this, ruling that traffic laws can regulate actions that potentially interfere with law enforcement duties or the safety of the public. Sounds like a bunch of legal mumbo jumbo to me.
Past Legal Problems
There have been cases in other states where drivers were ticketed or charged for flashing their headlights to warn of police ahead. Some of these cases have led to legal battles, and the courts have had differing opinions. In some cases, judges ruled in favor of drivers, asserting that flashing headlights is a form of free speech protected under the First Amendment.
Just Use Caution
First Amendment or not, using caution while driving is crucial. If you decide to flash your headlights to warn others of police presence, remember the following:
- Don't create hazardous driving conditions. Flashing your headlights should not lead to confusion or accidents on the road. Use common sense and only flash when it's safe.
- Comply with traffic laws. While you may be warning others about police, it does not give you the right to break other traffic laws like speeding or running red lights.
- Be aware of local laws. Although Texas does not explicitly prohibit flashing headlights to warn of police, it's important to stay up to date on any changes in traffic laws.
For more of a legal stance on the matter, watch the video below from The Civil Rights Lawyer.