No one likes to be pulled over by the police – whether it is for a traffic ticket or something else. Being pulled over is a highly stressful time and often inconvenient as well. For some, a traffic stop can lead to more serious issues, especially if the officer finds drugs in the vehicle. Traffic stops cannot be done at an officer’s whim and if you are pulled over by law enforcement, it is important to remember that you have rights.
When Can Police Legally Pull You Over in Florida?
To stop a vehicle, it is considered a “seizure” under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. Therefore, to stop a person’s vehicle, there must be a reasonable explanation for doing so – otherwise the police have violated a very basic constitutional right.
Police are required to have “reasonable suspicion” when pulling over a vehicle. For example, the police officer witnessed the vehicle committing a traffic infraction – such as speeding or driving with an expired license registration. This is considered reasonable suspicion under the law and gives a police officer the right to conduct a traffic stop.
If there is no traffic violation present, the officer must show that they had reasonable suspicion regarding yourself or the vehicle. Officers cannot stop a vehicle based on a feeling or hunch and instead must have facts that can be presented in court.
What if I Suspect the Officer Pulled Me Over Just to Look for Something Illegal?
If you suspect the police have pulled you over with ulterior motives, it is important to realize that a traffic infraction does not prevent an officer from searching your vehicle for evidence of other crimes committed. But, the officer is required under the law to have reasonable suspicion that you have committed other crimes. So, an officer cannot pull you over for speeding and then search your vehicle for no reason – instead, they must have proof or reasonable suspicion that you are guilty of another crime as well.
For example, you are pulled over for running a red light and the officer decides that you appear to be under the influence. They may search the vehicle, legally, for evidence of drugs or alcohol to explain your impairment.
How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
There are numerous instances where law enforcement will pull over a vehicle and they do not have reasonable suspicion. An aggressive, skilled criminal defense attorney may be able to have any evidence found in the illegal traffic stop suppressed in court. If that evidence is the only evidence prosecutors have for the criminal charge, your case may be dismissed. Even if your case is not dismissed, the right attorney can help get the charges reduced – and possibly go from a felony to a misdemeanor.
Contact The Law Office of Timothy Armstrong, P.A. Now
If you were pulled over and you feel the officer did not have a reasonable suspicion to do so, contact The Law Office of Timothy Armstrong, P.A. now to schedule a case evaluation. We will conduct a thorough investigation to help determine the officer’s reasoning behind your traffic stop and we will aggressively protect your rights. Contact our law office online or call 904-356-8618 to schedule a consultation appointment.