All Michael Elli wanted to do was warn fellow drivers of an oncoming speed trap, so he flashed his headlights for cars coming in the opposite direction. However, his act of kindness drew the ire of the Ellisville Police officers that saw it, and the Missouri man was ticketed. Charges of obstruction of justice were allegedly filed and then dropped, but now Elli has filed a class action lawsuit against Ellisville, claiming that the city suppresses drivers’ rights to free speech.
The incident happened on Nov. 17, 2012, according to Courthouse News, which reports:
"When plaintiff appeared in municipal court, as directed on the citation, he was advised by the municipal judge that the standard punishment imposed in the City of Ellisville for using headlamps to communicate the presence of a speed-trap is a $1,000.00 fine.
"When plaintiff asserted to the municipal judge that he wanted to plead not guilty because he did not believe flashing headlamps violated [the law], the judge became agitated and asked plaintiff if he had ever heard of 'obstruction of justice.
“Elli pleaded not guilty and was told to come back to court on Feb. 21, 2013, but the charges were dropped on Feb. 12.”
Elli’s case is strikingly similar to that of Erich Campbell, a Florida man ticketed in Dec. 2009 for flashing his headlights ahead of a speed trap. His ticket was also waived, but he sued the state in 2011 for the right to flash headlights, according to The Tampa Bay Times.
"This is a pattern, and it has mostly to do with frustrated police officers who feel they were disrespected," Campbell told The Times. "When someone comes along and rats them out, they take offense to it."