We often talk about how you can avoid Florida traffic tickets by following the rules of the road and by being polite to law enforcement officers who pull you over. However, a look at some of the legal headlines around the country makes that advice seem a little naïve at times. In actuality, people do get into trouble with the police when they are trying to do everything right. It is very common for a cop to pull someone over for a minor traffic violation because they suspect other criminal activity. Sounds legal and it is. The problem is that cops lie. They lie a lot. It seems one in five black clients that I ever represented tell me that the cop said “he smelled pot” that’s why he pulled me over. Of course, this is total crap. The cop can say he smelled anything and who is going to prove the opposite. The Cops will also claim you swerved and that’s why he pulled you over. We know that driving while Black or Brown is reason enough for a lot of cops to pull people over. The only good news is that now cops assume THEY are on camera or being recorded so they tend to be slightly more honest in their dutes. I wish I could say that even getting caught on camera will deter some cops, but it’s not the case. Just last month six cops were aquitted after beating a homeless man to death and it was all caught on video.
Here are a few examples of recent headlines. In North Carolina, officers dragged two men out of a vehicle because they did not pull over immediately when the officers turned on their lights. Instead, the driver of the vehicle drove for approximately a quarter of a mile until they came across a side street where it was safe to pull over and stop their vehicle. This delay in following orders due to safety concerns enraged the officers enough to forcibly drag the driver and the passenger out of the vehicle to search them. A judge ruled the search illegal.
In Georgia, a man was pulled over when a police officer did not see a recent registration sticker on the man’s license plate. However, the driver had made a simple mistake. His vehicle was properly registered, but he put the sticker on the wrong side of the license plate. For this transgression, he was frisked and his vehicle was searched. A judge ruled the search illegal. In Ohio, during a routine traffic stop, a law enforcement officer decided that the driver was being too polite. In the officer’s mind this made the man suspicious. The officer called for drug-sniffing dogs to search the driver’s vehicle. A judge ruled the search illegal as being polite to officers is not suspicious.
In New York, an officer stopped a vehicle for driving too cautiously. The officer began following the vehicle and noticed that the driver kept both hands on the wheel at all times. The car drove under the speed limit and did not attempt to pass slower moving vehicles while being followed by the officer. This legal and careful driving created suspicion in the officer’s mind. He pulled the vehicle over and sent for drug-sniffing dogs. Yet again, a judge ruled that pulling the vehicle over was inappropriate and that the search was illegal.
The good news is that in all of these cases, judges were not fooled by the activity of law enforcement officers. Unfortunately, we only know about these cases because of how the judges ruled. There are many, many more incidents that go unnoticed because the people involved do not put up much of a fight. What you should learn from this is that anytime you are pulled over and issued any kind of ticket or charged with a more serious crime, you need to call an attorney. A Florida traffic ticket lawyer can help you understand what kinds of traffic stops are legal and what kind of traffic stops are not. An experienced traffic ticket attorney can also help you defend yourself against an illegal stop or search. Our office offers free consultations, so there really is no reason why you should not call when you are pulled over. Call me, Jason Diamond, if you need help, he’s here for you.