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February 05, 2014

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Michael Risch

Your first point is what I was thinking when I read that post - don't people slow down and comply with the law when they see the lights? If so, then the flashing lights replace really good eyesight.

I suspect the response is that it does facilitate crime, because now everyone can drive around really fast, and the warnings will tell them to slow down to avoid capture. I'm not buying that story, though - you can't be assured that someone will speak to you wherever there's a speed trap, for example.

Jimbino

You are right, Volokh is wrong, and your post is written in English, unlike those of Volokh, who continues to say, "forbid...from..." and other infelicities, all the while deigning to advise students on proper legal writing.

Howard Wasserman

Michael: Volokh would equate flashing flights to the lookout shouting "here come the cops," causing his co-conspirators to forego or change their robbery plans. There is a difference between that and flashing lights, but I haven't been able to fully articulate it.

I wonder if we also can point out that sometimes the government warns about speed zones or about air-based traffic surveillance, as a way to deter the activity. So should the same warnings be unprotected when coming from individuals?

Michelle Meyer

Follow-on post: http://m.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2014/02/05/warning-lawbreaking-friends-and-family-that-the-police-are-watching-might-indeed-be-illegal/

Jeff Harrison

This is probably attributable to not reading the decision or the post but am I hearing this right: "Warning people they may be caught increases crime?"

Jeff Harrison

It's a bit of a problem to refer to this as crime. It is but the law clearly is designed to discourage speeding for some reasons and not for others. It actually creates an expected fine that people may or may not be willing to pay. If I am rushing an injured child to the hospital I "buy" some speeding; if I am late to a movie, I may not. So, if this is the case, someone flashing lights has the effect of telling the motorist that the expected cost of speeding up ahead is higher than he or she may anticipate. This means they slow down when they might otherwise not slow down. If anything, flashing lights causes "crime" to decrease below obtimal levels.

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