Can you be cited for flashing lights to warn drivers of speed traps? Is it free speech?

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. – You have probably seen it on the highways, your fellow drivers flashing their lights to warn you of a speed trap ahead.

Back in November of 2012 a Missouri officer pulled over Michael Elli, who had not been accused of a moving violation in more than 35 years, and cited him for flashing his headlights.

According to KTVI in St. Louis, a judge later told Elli the standard fine was $1,000.

Now U.S. District Judge Henry Autry has issued a preliminary injunction ordering police to halt that policy.

He ruled flashing your headlights to warn other drivers to slow down is essentially the same as speaking the words to alert other drivers, it is protected under the First Amendment.

“If you’re at the gas station on the corner and someone says, ‘Hey be careful over there, there’s a speed trap’, that’s protected speech; you can’t be ticketed for that.  This is no different,” Tony Rothert said, an attorney for the American Civil Liberty Union.

A victory for drivers, the judge’s ruling in St. Louis, could have ramifications across the U.S.

MORE: See the full story from KTVI

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