How many times have you seen an accident or an animal in the road or even a speed trap and then flashed your headlights to warn oncoming traffic to slow down? For as long as I can remember, that has been a common practice, even a common courtesy to other drivers, BUT is it legal?

Is warning another driver to slow down legal or illegal in New York State? If you use a traffic app such as Waze, you know there are constant reports of debris in the road, police ahead, traffic congestions, etc. Maybe it's the flashing of headlights that's illegal? Let's investigate.

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Recently I saw a video posted to social media. In the video a police officer was reprimanding the driver for having flashed his headlights to reveal the officer's speed trap. The officer ultimately let the driver go with a warning but this doesn't prove legal or illegal.

This summer New York State Troopers are cracking down on speeders. From now until Sunday August 21st, New York State Police will be using marked and unmarked patrol cars, looking for speed infractions. Before you start warning others by flashing your headlights let's see if it's legal or illegal.

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash
Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

According to, 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.

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