Published: Sep 16, 2011 11:36 PM EDT
Updated: Sep 16, 2011 11:36 PM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla. -  It's estimated thousands of Floridians have been cited for warning other drivers that cops are up ahead by flashing their headlights.

Many drivers say they've done it at some point.

"I'm from up north. Everybody from up north flashes their headlights when there's a cop ahead," says Fort Myers driver Jason Kohn.

Some have paid the price for the "courtesy flicker", with the fine for improper flashing lights ranging from roughly $90 to about $160.

Seminole County attorney J. Marc Jones is challeging the citations in court with a class action law suit. He says punishing people for signaling other drivers puts the brakes on freedom of speech.

The Florida statute used to ticket drivers says flashing lights are prohibited on vehicles, except those used for indicating right and left turns, stopping, or signaling your vehicle is disabled on the road. Jones says that statute does not apply to alerting others by using flashing headlights.

"It deals with equipment on the vehicle -- what is permitted, what is not permitted," Jones says. "It does not have to do with the physical action of flicking your high-beams off and on."

Jones says it isn't illegal to let another driver know verbally an officer is nearby, so it shouldn't be illegal to signal them. He goes on to say the Florida Driving Handbook tells drivers to flick their high-beams when passing each other at night, or if there's a hazard in the road.

Tuesday, the director of Florida Highway Patrol sent a directive to all troopers to stop writing the tickets.

The Clerk of Courts says 45 drivers in Lee County have been ticketed for improper flashing lights since 2005.

Jones says, as part of the lawsuit, he's fighting to get a refund for Florida drivers ticketed for the act. He says due to the statute of limitations, if granted, it would apply to those cited within the past 5 years.