Flashing is Legal in New York – Your Headlights That Is
How many times has this happened to you? You're driving along at night and someone is driving toward you in the oncoming lane with their brights on. Do you flash your headlights to let them know they are blinding you? Is that even legal? The answer might surprise you.
I was pulled over when I lived in Nebraska for flashing my headlights at an oncoming car that still had its brights on. Unfortunately for me, it was a state trooper and he was not too happy with me. He wrote me a ticket for something like "blinding oncoming traffic". I fought the ticket and it was thrown out.
So, after moving to New York I was curious if it was legal to flash your lights at someone that still has their high beams on because it seems to happen to me a lot. Also, I drive a lifted Jeep with bright LED headlights and people sometimes flash their lights at me thinking I have my brights on when I don't. I did some digging and found some very interesting information.
In New York, it is totally legal to briefly flash your lights at an oncoming driver that has their high beams on. You can't just flip your high beams on and blind them, but a brief flash is totally legal. According to www.traffictickets.com, in New York, the practice of flashing high beams is not illegal. Rather, New York Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 375 merely states that headlamps “shall be operated so that dazzling light does not interfere with the driver of the approaching vehicle.” In a 1994 decision, the Appellate Division, Second Department held that flickering high beams do not amount to “dazzling lights.”
What really surprised me was that it's not illegal to flash your lights at night or during the daytime to warn drivers of a speed trap. It's considered part of your 1st Amendment right as long as you don't interfere with the police doing their job it's totally legal in New York, and several other states, to warn drivers of police ahead.
According to, Avvo.com, the New York State Supreme Court ruled that police cannot ticket a person for flashing their lights. "In 2009, the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division (Fourth Department) held that the flashing of lights alone is not a violation of New York Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 375 , that stopping a vehicle based upon that is illegal, and all evidence gathered as a result of the illegal stop should be suppressed."
So, the bottom line....flash away in New York....wait, that didn't sound right.
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