|Driver fined for flashing headlights|
A 64 year old UK motorist has been convicted of ‘wilfully obstructing a policewoman in the execution of her duty’ for flashing his headlights to warn other motorists of a police speed trap. He was fined a total of £440.
Michael Thompson was pulled over after flashing his lights at oncoming motorists, and after receiving a lecture about perverting the course of justice was told he would be let off with a warning. When he explained his reason for flashing was a concern for the safety of other drivers, the officer chose to fine him.
In court, Mr Thompson again argued that flashing his lights to warn other drivers of the speed trap was rooted in his concern for their safety. Only a year earlier Thompson himself had been caught in a pile up caused by another motorist braking suddenly upon discovering a speed trap, and he wanted to prevent a similar situation.
The Magistrate rejected his defence and found him guilty of obstruction, saying ‘We found that your flashing of your headlights was an obstruction, we found that you knew this action would cause vehicles to slow down and cause other motorists to avoid the speed trap and avoid prosecution.’
There seems to be something amiss here. Police set speed traps with the ultimate aim of reducing the number of people speeding. Mr Thompson took action that caused speeding motorists to slow down. He was actually helping the police do their job, yet he was convicted of obstructing them. He hasn’t prevented the police from carrying out their duties, i.e. to check the speed of passing motorists. His flashing headlights had the exact same result on the oncoming traffic as spotting a police officer with a radar/laser gun has on most people: a momentary reduction in speed. But there’s one important difference, a difference that makes this absurd application of the law start to make sense. A motorist obeying the speed limit as they pass through a speed trap can’t be fined for speeding.
Police check speed under the guise of boosting road safety, but most road users realise it’s little more than a revenue raising activity. If their concern really was road safety the police force would be thanking Mr Thompson for helping them do their job rather than prosecuting him.