While driving on any roads across New York State, have you ever flashed your headlights to warn others if there was an officer coming, an accident, or something to watch out for in the road? Is this nice gesture illegal? Is it legal to flash your headlights in New York?

In short, here in New York State the practice of flashing high beams is not illegal. You read that right, it is not illegal. According to Rosenblum Law, New York Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 375 (3) states that headlamps "shall be operated so that dazzling light does not interfere with the driver of the approaching vehicle."

In a 1994 decision, the Appellate Division, Second Department held that flickering high beams do not amount to "dazzling lights." People v. Lauber, 162 Misc.2d 19, 617 N.Y.S.2d 419 (2d. Dept. 1994). In 2009, the Fourth Department declared more directly that the flashing of lights by itself is not a violation of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law Code, and that stopping a vehicle based upon the driver flashing his or her high beams is illegal.

It's not illegal to flash your lights at night, or during the daytime to warn drivers of situations mentioned above. As long as you don't interfere with the police doing their job, it's totally legal in New York, and several other states, to warn drivers of police ahead. Drivers leaving the State of New York should be wary of reaching for their headlight beam selectors, as the practice of flicking headlights remains a ticketable offense in many other surrounding states.

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