ACLU-Missouri challenges policy of ticketing drivers who flash their lights

ELLISVILLE, Mo. - A judge delivered an injunction against the City of Ellisville on Monday to prevent the city from ticketing commuters who use their headlights to communicate with other drivers.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri (ACLU-MO) filed suit against the City of Ellisville in April 2013 on behalf of Michael Elli, who was ticketed and received a hefty fine under the city's ordinance.

In November 2012, Elli flashed his headlights while traveling on Kiefer Creek Road to warn oncoming drivers about a radar ahead. An Ellisville police officer pulled Elli over and issued him a ticket. When Elli appeared in municipal court, he was told the standard punishment for flashing one's lights is a $1,000 fine.

"It's good for all of us when drivers communicate to each other, especially when it's a universally understood message to use caution. That's never a bad message for a driver to receive," said ACLU Missouri's Legal Director Tony Rothert.

The charge against Elli was later dismissed.

Prior to making his ruling Monday, the judge acknowledged the city's policy likely violates the First Amendment.


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