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Erich Campbell thought he was being helpful. The Florida Highway patrolman thought he was being obnoxious and disrespectful and gave him a $101 fine. "I couldn’t believe it,” said Campbell as he paced next to Veterans Highway in Tampa, Fla. “I was in complete disbelief.” Campbell’s crime? He flashed his headlights to alert oncoming cars after passing that patrolman’s speed trap. “It’s something I do,” he explained. "I don’t think it should be against the law."
In December 2009, the patrolman was set up on the southbound side of Route 589 near the Tampa International Airport. In a recording of the stop, the officer told Campbell he had seen his lights flashing. “It’s illegal,” he said before giving him a ticket that read “improper flashing of high-beams.”
Campbell eventually got the ticket dismissed, but he recently filed a class-action lawsuit against the state over writing similar citations. Why?
Campbell estimates 2,600 other “highbeam-helpers” received summonses between 2005 and 2010. He says most simply chose to pay their fines. “Someone has to stand up,” he says, referring to the tickets as a “huge money-maker” for the state, not to mention a "blatant violation of the right to free speech.” “I have the right to communicate with my fellow drivers,” he said. “That’s my right.” Guaranteed, he said, by the U.S. Constitution.
“He is aiding law-breakers,” said Ruskin. “He is warning people who are speeding to slow down. His intent is to impede the police.” It’s a point Campbell says is impossible to prove. “I may simply not like speeders and am telling others to slow down. They can’t prove my intent.”
Do the police not encourage the general public to help make the streets safer ? Even encourage block watch programs to exist due to their lack of officers .