Missouri city stops citing drivers who warn others of speed traps

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 23, 2015 5:10 PM

By Kevin Murphy

KANSAS CITY, Mo (Reuters) - A Missouri city will stop ticketing drivers who flash their headlights to warn other motorists of police speed traps, as part of a settlement of a civil rights lawsuit, officials said on Friday.

The lawsuit against Grain Valley was the second the American Civil Liberties Union has filed recently in Missouri alleging that free speech is violated when a community bans motorists from warning other drivers of speed traps.

Other plaintiffs have filed similar lawsuits in other states, an ACLU spokeswoman said.

In December, the city changed its ordinance so that flashing headlights cannot be interpreted as illegally interfering with police radar. The city settled the lawsuit by paying Jarman $5,560, said Jaime Rehmsmeyer, city clerk and human resources director.

On Friday, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit that the ACLU filed against Grain Valley in western Missouri on behalf of Jerry Jarman, Jr., who police cited last August for using his headlights to alert motorists.

"We are pleased that Grain Valley agrees that drivers should not be penalized for warning others to drive cautiously," Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri, said in a statement. "Flashing headlights is a readily understood way of communicating a message and is protected by the First Amendment."

(Editing by Fiona Ortiz and Sandra Maler)