Ohio Bill addresses legality of flashing headlights

Representative John Becker
Representative John Becker
File photo
File photo

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A bill proposed by an Ohio lawmaker aims to remove doubt of what many drivers see as common courtesy on the road. It's probably something you've done and not thought twice about: Flashing your headlights at another driver.

State Representative John Becker says House Bill 475 would clear up any confusion surrounding the legality of flashing your lights at oncoming drivers, a practice he calls "arguably illegal."

Becker says Ohio code doesn't specifically state that flashing headlights at oncoming drivers is illegal, but it doesn't align with existing state codes.

"The code does not specifically ban it, and call it illegal, but it does not fit into the exceptions that are listed in the code, therefore, it's arguably illegal," Becker explained.

Federal judges have ruled that flashing your headlights is a right protected under the First Amendment, a reason why Becker says he drafted this bill.

"It's always been a courtesy to flash your lights at oncoming motorists.  With this law, it removes any doubt about the legalities of doing that," said Becker.

"I respect it when people do that… I just like to return the favor to other people," said Anderson Township resident Mitch Klein, referencing how many motorists flash their headlights at other vehicles to warn of a police officer up ahead.

Cases surrounding flashing headlights have been in Ohio courts before, specifically in 1976, 1993, and 1994. Becker says his Bill would keep the courts from determining whether the practice is illegal or not.

"I don't like the idea of the judiciary correcting the Ohio Revised Code.  That's up to us in the General Assembly to do that.  So, that's why I want to take legislative action to fix this problem," said Becker.

FOX19's Ben Katko spoke with North College Hill Police Chief Gary Foust, who said anything to reduce speed and keep the roads safer works for him, even if that includes flashing headlights.

The next step is for the bill to be assigned to a committee. You can view the Bill in it's entirety here: http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/bills.cfm?ID=130_HB_475

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