D.C. solo practitioner Mark Zaid, the lawyer who was written up for flashing his lights to warn motorists about a police speed trap, said in a letter today to the Montgomery County Police Department that he has been “inundated” with messages of support from around the country.
Zaid, cited for prohibited use of flashing lights, said a woman sent her Maryland court records for the same offense—20 years ago. Zaid challenged his ticket this week in court in Rockville, Md., and won—at least on a technicality. The officer didn’t show up, and the judge dismissed the citation.
Still, police department officials are telling the press that the department doesn’t think flashing lights is a violation of Maryland traffic laws. The police chief, J. Thomas Manger, sent Zaid an e-mail yesterday notifying Zaid that an “investigation was initiated into the facts and circumstances surrounding the actions of the officer involved” in giving Zaid the $50 ticket.
In court earlier this week, Zaid found three other drivers who were issued citations under the same Maryland law, which is a general provision that bars flashing lights. The officer told Zaid that flashing headlamps interfered with a police investigation. Zaid was stopped on Westlake Drive on a Sunday afternoon in April.
Zaid said in his letter that the law prohibits a person from installing, for instance, blue lights on a vehicle. Equipping an ordinary Chevy Impala with strobes and blue flashing lights can turn it into an unmarked detective’s vehicle.
Zaid is demanding the police department issue him a written apology and to provide an assurance that the department will administer remedial training. “Our community expects that our officers will enforce the law, not create it,” Zaid wrote in the four-page letter. Click here for a copy.
He also wants the department to stop writing tickets for drivers who flash their lights. And then the letter gets to the litigation part.
“If you undertake any due diligence into my background, you will discover I will not hesitate to challenge government conduct and abuse, no matter the level,” Zaid said. “I am committed to pursuing this matter further, to include civil litigation if necessary, unless I am satisfied with the Department’s forthcoming response.”
Zaid continued: “I state this as someone who fully intends to engage in the conduct of flashing my headlamps, should I choose to do so in certain circumstances, in the future.”
Oh, and Zaid assured the department that he is not seeking to benefit financially. Any monetary damages, Zaid said, “will be donated to your favorite law enforcement charity.”