Ryan Kintner Speaks With His Car

And that's a problem for the Florida Highway Patrol and the Seminole County Sheriff's Department.

On August 10, 2011, Kintner, a citizen of Lake Mary, Florida, noticed suspicious behavior on the part of a Seminole County Sheriff's Deputy.  The deputy had driven his cruiser onto Kintner's street and parked, creating a traffic obstruction and a hazard to children and other residents.  Not content to block traffic with his noxious presence, the deputy then pointed a device designed to fire hazardous radiation beams at oncoming motorists, threatening Kintner's neighbors with cancerous tumors.

Most men would have gone about their business against such an awesome abuse of power.  Not Kintner.  Never one to cower before tyranny, Kintner exercised his right to express dissent, which as we all know is the highest form of patriotism. He drove his car up one block, then began to shine his headlights at oncoming motorists, his friends and neighbors, to warn them that the government was conducting radiation experiments in the area.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of the courage to speak out against government overreach must be arrested, and branded a criminal.  That truth came to pass in Kintner's case.  The deputy abused his authority to charge Kintner with the high crime of "flashing lights" in violation of Florida statute 316.2397(7):

Flashing lights are prohibited on vehicles except as a means of indicating a right or left turn, to change lanes, or to indicate that the vehicle is lawfully stopped or disabled upon the highway or except that the lamps authorized in subsections (1), (2), (3), (4), and (9) and s. 316.235(5) are permitted to flash.

Fortunately for us all, where most men would have given up at this point and "paid the ticket", Kintner fought back. He retained the services of J. Marcus Jones, the noted attorney of Oviedo Florida, and sued for his liberty.  Jones fought for Kintner's freedom with a two-pronged assault: first, that the Seminole County Sheriff applied the statute arbitrarily, to punish Kintner for warning his fellow citizens of the deputy's misconduct; second, that each time he activated his headlights to caution his neighbors, Ryan Kintner was engaged in speech protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

That's right.  Ryan Kintner speaks with his car.  And with the able advocacy of Marcus Jones, he does so most eloquently.  Yesterday Judge Alan Dickey of the Seminole County Circuit Court struck down the unlawful acts of this brazen Sheriff, holding that Ryan Kintner has a First Amendment right to warn friends, family, and neighbors of hazards created by the police.

Even if he has to use his car to do it.

So hats off to Judge Dickey, Mr. Jones, and especially Mr. Kintner.  Thanks to Ryan Kintner, all of us are a little more free today.

Last 5 posts by Patrick Non-White


  1. ShelbyC says

    Huh? It's hard to imagine that hi-beams are flashing lights within the meaning of the statute.

  2. Dan Weber says

    I've heard before of statutes that restrict your ability to warn other motorists of speed traps. I'd expect most of them to fail when subjected to First Amendment scrutiny, however.

  3. David Schwartz says

    I agree with ShelbyC. The statute is about the construction of lights on vehicles, not their use. It doesn't prohibit causing an ordinary light to flash but having a light that is constructed to flash.

  4. Kasey says

    You know, lesser men would read this article and assume that you were writing sarcastically to point out the alleged absurdity of such a first amendment claim.

    Thankfully, I am not a lesser man, and read this article in as the full-throated support of us car-talkers and our rights under the Constitution.

    Preach on, brother Patrick

  5. Secular Absolutist says

    sigh… Yes, I breath a little better for this outcome. Sadly, it had to come to this. Very sadly. Too many cops and politicians doing it for the wrong reasons.

  6. says

    The police are clearly trying to protect us from gang initiation rites where those gang members drive around with their high beams on and have to HUNT DOWN and MURDER the first person who flashes their high beams at them. It could have happened to Ryan! That deputy sheriff may very well have saved his life!

    Snopes? No, I've never heard of this "Snopes" thing. Why do you ask?

  7. says

    You know, your tone is mocking, but I can't see how this is a bad thing. Silly, yes. But bad? "First they came for the headlight flashers, and I did not speak out, because I was not a headlight flasher…"

  8. Jess says

    It could be an interesting case and precedent given that our government via DHS and local police agencies has at lat count, more than more than 500 mobile backscatter x-ray scanners deployed across the US. I'm not talking about what I assume was a radar detection unit for speeding in this particular case, but the new mobile scanners our government now appear to be in so in love with and which can be pointed an innocent citizens without their knowlege or consent.

  9. bill. says

    Hearing about cops hassling light flashers was probably one of the first things that made me reevaluate how I looked at the police. By flashing your lights you're telling everyone to slow down and obey the law. But it turns out the police don't care about safety because they'd rather harass people and take their money.

  10. delurking says

    Interesting: in Florida, if you are driving really slowly, it is not legal to have your hazard lights flashing.

  11. Woodman says

    Every place I know of it's illegal to drive with your flashers on. Hazard lights are to indicate that your vehicle is immobile and is a hazard to others.

    Not to show that you overloaded your vehicle with carp, or that some guy in front of you is slowing down on the highway, or any number of things that people use them for.

  12. Ygolonac says

    delurking – correct, otherwise you'd stand out from the swarms of senior citizens.

    I expect that any future light-flashing would be targeted with whatever "interference with police activity" statutes they could squeeze it under.

  13. astuartgirl says

    @delurking – "Interesting: in Florida, if you are driving really slowly, it is not legal to have your hazard lights flashing."

    Sadly: in South Florida, this is every other car when it rains.

  14. Mike says

    For what its worth, this is not an unimportant precedent as a number of jurisdictions are looking to further clamp down on this sort of thing.

    I'm thinking in particular about a number of news reports I've read about authorities looking to stop people (somehow) from tweeting radar and DUI checkstop locations.

  15. Garrett says


    > Every place I know of it's illegal to drive with your flashers on. Hazard lights are to > indicate that your vehicle is immobile and is a hazard to others.

    Here in Pennsylvania, the mountainous sections of Interstate frequently have signs indicating that drivers should use flashers if travelling below a certain speed (typically 40 mph). This is generally used by either heavy trucks on a steep grade or in severe weather.

  16. ShelbyC says

    Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office wants armed drones? Why? So they can shoot the tow trucks trying to repo their cars when they don't pay their bill? Whatever happed with that anyway?

  17. Joe Mama says

    "Flashing lights are prohibited on vehicles except as…"

    Dumb ass cops need to go back to grade school and retake the class on nouns and verbs.