ST. LOUIS – A permanent injunction issued this week by U.S. District Judge Henry Edward Autrey means Ellisville drivers need not worry about getting ticketed if they use their headlights to send a message to other drivers to slow down and proceed with caution.
In April 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri filed a lawsuit on behalf of Michael Elli who was pulled over by a City of Ellisville police officer and issued a citation for flashing lights to warn of radar ahead. When Elli appeared in municipal court, he was told the standard punishment is a $1,000 fine. The charge against Elli was eventually dismissed.
“Expressive conduct is protected whenever a particular message is present and the likelihood is great that the message would be understood by those who viewed it," explains Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri. “Even new drivers understand that an oncoming car with flashing headlights means they should either slow down, turn on their headlights, or otherwise use caution.”
“The police cannot retaliate against drivers who have done nothing wrong and are simply exercising their right to communicate with other drivers,” says Jeffrey A. Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Missouri.
The ACLU of Missouri is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization dedicated to defending and expanding the constitutional rights and civil liberties of all Missourians guaranteed by the U.S. and Missouri Constitutions, and is an affiliate of the national ACLU.