CARR Title

FLASHING HEADLIGHTS

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ALWAYS WARN MOTORISTS OF SPEED TRAPS

For many years, there have been laws passed to make it illegal for motorists to flash their high beams at oncoming motorists to warn them of speed traps. The reason stated by governments and police was that this practice was dangerous because flashing high beams would dazzle oncoming drivers. Of course this reason was completely bogus. The real reason for these laws was to prevent motorists from alerting others of speed traps. These laws were passed in order to facilitate revenue-raising by police for their respective state governments.

Would motorists be fined for flashing their high beams at oncoming drivers to warn them of hazards on the road, such as a fallen tree or an accident? Of course not. Would motorists be booked by police for flashing their lights at drivers who are heading towards any form of danger? Never. So why is it not dangerous to flash one's high beams to warn of hazards on the road, but is claimed to be dangerous to warn of speed traps? It does not make any logical sense unless it is taken in context of revenue-raising.

In Victoria in 2013, police stated that they did not mind motorists flashing their high beams to warn of speed traps. So why is this practice now considered to be safe in Victoria, yet dangerous in other Australian jurisdictions? The reason can be easily construed from the fact that Victorian police are now permitted to establish hidden speed traps that cannot be easily spotted by motorists and they are also allowed to place their speed traps in positions that are conducive to inadvertent speeding, such as at the bottom of hills, thus making it easier for them to entrap motorists and rip them off.

However, if flashing high beams is considered to be safe in Victoria, this argument and a few others can be used to fight infringements for this activity in other jurisdictions. The interesting thing to note is that when a motorist flashes his high beams at oncoming drivers, he is actually performing the service of slowing speeding motorists down - the exact reason that police give as justification for setting up speed traps.

ONE RULE FOR THEM AND ANOTHER RULE FOR US

Ambulance flashing blinding high beams at Ziggy

This very short piece of video recorded by me on 21 January 2014 on my car black box recorder shows an ambulance driving at high speed towards my car and flashing its high beams. It doesn't look that dramatic on the video, but those flashing headlights were very powerful and bright and also very distracting. But why are ambulances and police permitted to drive along and flash their high beams if they claim that it is dangerous for motorists to do the same to warn other motorists of speed traps?


Police car flashing blinding high beams at Ziggy

Here is another example. On 09 December 2014, I was driving in the Sydney suburb of Glenhaven, when a police car drove towards me with its siren and red and blue dome lights operating, as well as its headlights flashing directly into my eyes. The video clip does not do it justice, but I would swear in any court that those headlights were very bright and very distracting to me as a motorist.

Reasonable people understand that ambulances and police have to get to the scenes of accidents and crimes in a hurry, but they have flashing dome lights and sirens to warn traffic. So why is it that they use flashing high beams, when the government claims that flashing high beams is so dangerous that motorists are booked for doing this when warning other motorists of speed traps? Surely flashing those high beams allegedly poses the same danger, whether ordinary motorists do it or police and ambulances do it. If it's dangerous, then it should not be allowed, but if the government allows police and other emergency services to do it, then obviously it's not dangerous.

So using this video clip as evidence, any motorist who is booked for flashing his high beams to warn oncoming motorists that there is a speed trap should take the matter to court and grill the prosecution witnesses and even subpoena state government officials to explain to the court why flashing high beams by motorists is considered to be dangerous and a bookable offence, yet flashing high beams is considered safe when done by emergency vehicles. CARR suggests that all motorists install car black box recorders and save video clips of these occurrences to use as evidence in court.

FIGHTING HIGH BEAM INFRINGEMENTS IN COURT

If a motorist is booked for flashing his high beams to warn oncoming motorists of a speed trap, there is a fairly logical way of mounting a good defence. Imagine a courtroom scene where a motorist has the policeman who booked him on the witness stand - the cross-examination might go something like this:

At this point in the procedure, the defendant should ask the court to dismiss the matter on the basis that the police issued the infringement on a completely arbitrary basis and for the purpose of punishing the defendant for warning oncoming motorists of speed traps and not because it was dangerous. Furthermore, the defendant should point out to the court that under the definition of a crime, on which this infringement happens to be based, no crime was committed because there was no victim, no injured party and no violation of contract, those three criteria being required to prove a crime. By rights, with such evidence and the police's own sworn testimony, one would think that such an infringement would be dismissed on the spot.

STUPID AND UNJUSTIFIABLE OFFENCE

A motorist has stated to me that in Western Australia, a motorist pulled over by police for flashing his headlights to warn of a speed trap can be charged with the offence of "obstructing the police from carrying out their duties." Obstructing the police from raising revenue? Is there anything more ridiculous and illogical than this? Furthermore, any motorist who is booked for this ludicrous offence could tear the cop who booked him to ribbons on the witness stand. For instance, imagine this cross-examination in court.

This is the problem faced by police who try and book motorists for flashing their high beams to warn of speed traps. Either they prove that flashing headlights is dangerous, something that they do themselves all the time when pursuing cars or driving to crime scenes, or they are forced to admit that motorists flashing headlights are merely doing what they should be doing - keeping a visible presence on the roads and deterring motorists from speeding, instead of hiding behind bushes and corners and hoping motorists would speed so that they can be booked in order to raise revenue for the state.

Getting motorists to slow down to the speed limit cannot possibly be an offence, therefore the only pretext for booking a motorist for flashing headlights is that the state claims that it is dangerous. However, cops, ambulances and fire brigade vehicles do this all the time when driving to emergencies, therefore it cannot be dangerous to do this. Any motorist who is booked for flashing high beams should fight the booking in court using the above logical arguments to the magistrate that the entire reason for the infringement is for revenue-raising and that is a wrongful use of a very unjust road law.

WHAT TO DO

Despite the fact that flashing one's headlights at oncoming motorists is a bookable offence in most jurisdictions, a defendant can easily show a court that the ONLY reason for this law is for the purpose of giving police more opportunities to entrap motorists. In other words, police want to see motorists speeding for the purpose of booking them and anything that reduces their chances of doing this should be stopped, such as flashing high beams.

I have heard that some motorists who have used similar defences as the hypothetical one above have actually had those infringements dismissed, so it is always worth fighting them. The most important thing is for motorists to help fellow drivers avoid being booked by police speed traps by flashing their high beams and doing anything else that warns them of these financial hazards.

I am not in the business of advising motorists to break laws, however the flashing high beams law is so unjust and the reason for it is so ludicrously apparent, that it calls for motorists to exercise civil disobedience and ignore this idiotic law and fight any infringement based on it in court.