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Basis for a Traffic Stop in Florida Criminal Law

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When is a traffic stop justified under Florida criminal law? In order for the police to pull you over, they have to have either probable cause or a good basis for suspicion. You also have rights against unreasonable search and seizure. As in the case discussed in the video, your DWI attorney may be able to use an unjustified vehicle stop in your defense.

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Let’s look at the most common reasons why a police officer could lawfully pull you over on Florida’s roadways:

Exhibiting behavior that indicates impaired driving. If you are swerving all over the road, braking unexpectedly or basically doing any kind of erratic driving, police can pull you over on the suspicion that you are intoxicated.

Traffic violations witnessed by law enforcement. Traffic infractions such as speeding, or running a red light or stop sign, is probable cause for a traffic stop under Florida criminal law.

Tip from a concerned citizen. This is not as common a reason for a detaining a motorist, but if a citizen calls in with a tip—say, if they see someone driving erratically and endangering other people on the road—and their tip can be corroborated, that is justification for the police to pull the suspected driver over.

Not wearing a seat belt. Florida has what we call a “primary safety belt law,” which means that you can be pulled over simply for not wearing a seat belt, or having someone in your car who is not wearing a seat belt.

When There Is No Justification for a Traffic Stop

There will be cases where the police pull someone over only on a suspicion, without having a good justification for the stop. If you were arrested after being pulled over and you do not believe you were doing anything that warranted being pulled over, then you need to talk to a DWI attorney about mounting a defense.

Even if the officers brought in a K-9 unit and found drugs in your car, if they did not have a good reason for pulling you over in the first place, this may qualify as unreasonable search and seizure under Florida criminal law.

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