|Probable Cause Traffic Stop Vehicle Color|
Traffic Stop Facts
The case began when the cops were looking for a reason to pull a vehicle over and the driver was not doing anything wrong to justify a legitimate traffic stop to issue a traffic citation or a warning. The cop used his computer system to pull the DHSMV (Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles) records on the vehicle he was following. The record was valid, the registration was valid, the driver and the vehicle were lawfully in operation. One field on the vehicle record described the color of the vehicle. The color of the targeted vehicle did not match. vehicle was stopped, odor of cannabis / marijuana, large quantity of drugs found, driver is arrested and goes to prison.
Can the Color of a Vehicle be the Probable Cause for a Traffic Stop?
Florida Supreme Court says the DHSMV record does not need to match the vehicle color. People are free to paint cars whenever they wish. There is no requirement that car owners report the new color of their vehicle to the state. Conviction overturned.
Can cops invent creative reasons to pull you over?
Florida Supreme Court says police cannot use otherwise innocent conduct to invent reasons for traffic stops. Courts can punish police who engage in such hunting. The punishment will at least be the evidence they have illegally obtained will be suppressed under the Exclusionary Rule. Under the rule, courts will not let police engage in misconduct and then convict and imprison citizens.
"To warrant an investigatory stop, the law requires not just a mere suspicion of criminal activity, but a reasonable, well-founded one. Popple, 626 So. 2d at 186 (“[A]n investigatory stop requires a well-founded, articulable suspicion of criminal activity.”). In Terry, the stop was found appropriate because the officer “had observed [three men] go [t]hrough a series of acts, each of them perhaps innocent in itself, but which taken together warranted further investigation.” Terry, 392 ."