When I was a kid, before getting my drivers license, I noticed oncoming cars occasionally flashing their headlights at my mom as they passed by. My mother told me that those drivers were warning her that there was a cop ahead. This tradition has carried on for decades BUT is it legal?

Is warning another driver that a cop is ahead legal or illegal in New York State? The act alone can't be illegal right? If you use the Waze app, you know there are constant reports of where a patrol car might be located. Maybe it's the flashing of headlights that's illegal? Let's investigate.

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Legal or illegal, I suppose the flashing of headlights can indicate several things such as accident ahead, debris in the road or a way to let another motorist know that you are letting them go ahead of you at an intersection. The main use however is to warn of speed traps.

We have all had the experience of cruising down the road, listening to the radio and maybe going a little faster than we should. All of a sudden there it is, a police car idling in a driveway just ready to come after you. Why didn't anyone warn you? Just a little flash of the headlights would have done it. Maybe they thought they'd be breaking the law.

Photo by Zac Gudakov on Unsplash
Photo by Zac Gudakov on Unsplash
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According to TrafficTickets.com, it is not illegal to flash your headlights to warn oncoming traffic that a speed trap is ahead, or for any other reason. What IS illegal however, is an officer stopping a vehicle based upon the driver flashing his or her high beams.

The officer may not like that you flashed your headlights but he can't write you a ticket for doing that. Carry on.

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