Lawmaker Pushes To Clear Up Headlight-Flashing Debate

Published: .
Updated: .

If you want to get another driver's attention about an accident or police running radar ahead, a quick flash of the headlights is a courtesy many appreciate, and others abhor.

"It's cheating.  If everybody did that, what's the purpose of police being there?” said Lisa Harmon of Columbus.

DJ Mays disagrees.  "I think it's nice for them to do that.  It’s protecting somebody, so that's money not coming out of someone else’s pocket.”

According to Republican lawmaker John Becker, while the law doesn't say flashing your headlights is illegal, it's not part of any exemptions.  “The way I interpret it, I think it is illegal to do it."

So Becker has proposed a change in the law, one that would make flashing your headlights acceptable behavior.  "If they want to flash their lights to warn of police radar or any issue - maybe an accident or something on the highway - so they slow down, they can do that without fear, without being charged with obstruction of justice or some other offense."

Constitutional Law Professor Dan Kobil says judges tend to agree that this form flashing is protected speech.  "That is a protected message that government cannot silence consistently with the First Amendment."

Until this headlight hub-bub is more clearly defined, its doubtful drivers will stop giving their fellow motorists the head light heads-up even though - in the eyes of John Becker - it appears to be an illegal way of saying “warning ahead.”  "I said, hey, let's fix this in Ohio and remove any ambiguity and let all the motorists be happy."

10TV checked with the Columbus Division of Police who told us the Division does not oppose to people flashing their headlights, as long as it gets people to slow down.