Yeah, we have all heard the rhetoric about how law enforcement agencies do not have quotas, but how many times have you been driving somewhere in Broward County and seen a cop with someone pulled over? They have their lights flashing while sitting in their car running a check on the driver’s license and registration. It’s a familiar scene because cops find a multitude of reasons to pull people over. Broadly interpretable laws such as careless driving or an improper lane change frequently give officers all the justification they need when pulling someone over.
Consider the fact that many cops profile the driver or the occupants of the vehicle and can use the vagueness of many laws to do so. I use the term profiling instead of the more often heard term of “racial profiling” because profiling can be the result of more than just someone’s skin tone. The cop may be opposed to the presumed religion of the driver if there is a cross, Star of David, or other religious iconography hanging from the rearview mirror or otherwise displayed in the vehicle. Another way of profiling someone is politically. If the vehicle displays a bumper sticker that is pro-choice or that touts the NRA or supports/attacks a certain political party and the cop takes offense, he can certainly justify pulling you over by using an excuse such as something innocuous like you didn’t use your turn signal when changing lanes. As I have stated before, if this happens, even though it is especially egregious, remain calm and only answer the questions that the police officer asks you. Do so politely but never, ever answer the first question he is likely to ask which is, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” It’s a trick question so the answer should always be, “No, sir. I do not.”
COPS ARE PREJUDICED LIKE EVERYONE ELSE … MAYBE WORSE THAN EVERYONE ELSE
One other tactic that police officers may use to elicit traffic stops is the color of your car. When you register your vehicle, you are required to document the color of your vehicle. If, at any time after that, you decide to paint your car, you may find yourself getting tagged by a cop. If he is behind you and runs a check on your license plate and the information comes back that the vehicle is a different color than what he sees, in some areas of Florida, this is reason enough to stop you.
The First District Court of Appeals in Northern Florida does not permit officers to pull you over if the only suspicious thing about you or your car is that its color doesn’t match what’s on the registration. There is no legal requirement to report painting your vehicle and there is no practical way to do so. Yet in the Fourth District Court of Appeals, which includes parts of South Florida, it is an accepted practice for cops to pull you for driving a vehicle that has been painted. Many Florida courts, however, have not made a ruling on this issue.
Let’s not overlook the fact that where this is permissible, it then gives the officer a tremendous opportunity to look for other violations so he can continue to pad his “non-existent” quota. It hardly seems reasonable that Broward County cops would engage in using such ploys to write traffic tickets unless there is a lot more in it for them than just doing their job. Promotions, pay raises, awards, pats on the back from bosses, and let’s not forget the pressure to generate funds for the county all obviously have a tremendous bearing on the great number of traffic tickets issued here in Broward County. If this were not so, then officers should have the liberty to be much more discretionary in how and when they pull people over.
If you get a traffic citation in Broward County because you are pulled over for an arbitrary reason such as discussed here, call the Traffic Ticket Team for a free consultation at 954-967-9888. We have a great deal of experience at exposing these unfair traffic stops for exactly what they are – excuses to write traffic tickets.