It's a common courtesy of the road for some people. If you are traveling along a highway, or even a country road, and see a speed trap set up, any oncoming traffic for the next mile, or so, you flash your lights at them to give them the heads up, right?

I grew up doing it and never got in trouble for it, HOWEVER, some communities claim that the act of warning those oncoming vehicles is actually illegal. But, is it really?

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The State of Michigan has handled some cases that deal with this exact issue. In fact, some cases in the past have gone all the way up to the federal level, and according to the Supreme Court... flashing headlights is constitutionally protected as a form of free speech. Which means, the terms of flashing lights might vary by state, it's still federally, legally protected.

But, what about Michigan specifically?

Well, turns out there is a possibility of getting a fine or ticket for flashing your lights. If authorities catch you flashing your lights within 500 feet of an oncoming car, it IS considered illegal. However, it isn't the act of flashing your lights to warn other vehicles that gets you in trouble - it's flashing your high beams too close to oncoming traffic, which IS illegal.

So in a sense, it's not illegal to flash your lights to warn oncoming traffic, you just have to do it further out than 500 feet.

Now, the odds of an officer seeing you do this is pretty slim, especially if you've already passed them on the side of the road. To my knowledge, they aren't typically staring down the road to make sure you don't flash your lights.

But I guess anything is possible. So keep that in mind at least the next time you try to warn oncoming traffic of a speed trap. Are you 500 feet away? And can the cop still see you?

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