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Tipping drivers to radar OK, federal judge says

ST. LOUIS — It’s a common practice among drivers who pass through a speed trap: Flash your headlights at approaching cars as a warning to slow down. Now, a federal court judge in Missouri says penalizing drivers for the headlight flash violates their First Amendment right to free speech.

US District Judge Henry E. Autrey in St. Louis this week issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the St. Louis County city of Ellisville from citing and prosecuting drivers who flash their lights to warn of radar and speed traps. Ellisville’s city attorney said there are no plans to appeal.

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The order stems from a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri on behalf of Michael Elli. On Nov. 17, 2012, Elli flashed his headlights to warn oncoming vehicles of a radar set up.

The case was eventually dropped.

Ellisville City Attorney George Restovich said the city has changed the policy.

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