“The law does not content itself with classifying and punishing crime. It invents crime,” from An Almanac, by Norman Douglas, 1945
Florida is certainly a beautiful paradise with breathtaking beaches, stunning sunshine, and a lack of humidity – well two out of three isn’t bad – but alas, our Sunshine State is also one of the most innovative places on earth for the invention of crime. Wouldn’t we all be better off if the governing folks up in Tallahassee would spend more time at the beach and less time making absurd laws?
Recent articles from the St Petersburg Times (see Man sues Florida for right to flash headlights – St. Petersburg Times) note that the Florida Highway Patrol has given out over 2,400 tickets to drivers for Headlight Flashing (see for definition and history: Headlight flashing – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).
The absurdity of the law and how it is applied in Florida happily reaches even potential tourists in soggy sunless England. Below see an excerpt from an article from Britain’s Daily Mail Newspaper (see Driver sues state of Florida after getting ticket for flashing lights to warn others of speed trap | Mail Online for the full text). Just don’t tell them about the humidity…
A Florida driver is suing the state for wrongly issuing thousands of tickets to people who flashed their lights to warn other motorists of speed traps.
Erich Campbell says the act is not illegal and has filed a lawsuit on behalf of every driver fined for the violation over the past six years, accusing police of misinterpreting state law and violating motorists’ free speech rights.
‘I don’t like what the government is doing, especially now when most people have a hard time affording gas,’ the 38-year-old told WTSP.com. ‘And now they have to defend themselves against a made up charge that doesn’t exist.’
Mr Campbell says the FHP trooper told him what he had done was illegal.
‘You could tell in his voice he was upset,’ Mr Campbell told WSTP.com. ‘He was professional, he wasn’t rude, but you could tell he was irritated.’
‘This is a pattern, and it has mostly to do with frustrated police officers who feel they were disrespected,’ Mr Campbell told the St Petersburg Times.
‘When someone comes along and rats them out, they take offense to it.’
Captain Mark Welch, a spokesman for the FHP, cited to the St Petersburg Times a law that says ‘flashing lights are prohibited on vehicles’ except for turn signals.
But soon after Mr Campbell launched his case against the state, the Highway Patrol ordered all troopers to stop issuing tickets to motorists who use headlights as a signal to other drivers.
‘You are directed to suspend enforcement action for this type of driver behavior,’ said the August 29 memo from Grady Garrick, acting deputy director of patrol operations.
The lawsuit estimates that 2,400 motorists in Florida were cited for headlight-flashing between 2005 and 2010.