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Criminal cases, Drug Possession or Drug Trafficking from a Traffic Stop

Many drug possession, drug trafficking or other criminal charges begin with a mere traffic stop. For years I have advised clients that if they are driving a blue car and the registration states it is to a white car then that alone is a sufficient basis for a stop.

This would mean that if I purchased a used car that was white registered it and then had it painted black with red flames the mere fact that I had painted the car would cause an inconsistency with the registration sufficient for a traffic stop. Many times this is where the officer says they smell marijuana or they have a dog that alerts to cocaine or other narcotics. Upon the ensuing search after the traffic stop when drugs are found a person is charged with possession or drug trafficking. In other words painting your car is going to get you stopped but only at the discretion of the officer's suspicion.

Fortunately as of the 21st of December 2012 in the First District, this is no longer true. In a case titled Kerick Van Teamer v. State of Florida the First District held that if the color inconsistency is the only basis for the stop then the stop is illegal. Unfortunately other district courts within the state disagree. Therefore if you are driving a car and the registration says it is white and it is painted bright green and you are in Fort Lauderdale or Ocala, then that stop will be upheld. However if you are driving a bright green car that used to be white in Gainesville, Starke or Lake City then evidence gathered from the traffic stop could be suppressed.

Now that there is a certified conflict amongst the districts, hopefully the Florida Supreme Court will give us an answer. While it does seem outrageous to me that you can be stopped merely for painting your car, I certainly can see how that may appear suspicious to a government worker driving a government car who is not responsible for the government paint job. That and people who steal cars tend to switch the plates of similar make and model cars. Obviously in the eyes of law enforcement officers anyone who paints their car is suspicious.

This decision will be important because of the number of cases including drug possession and drug trafficking cases that begin at a traffic stop. In addition several other types of cases could be generated from a traffic stop such as driving on a suspended license, driving without a valid license, driving under the influence or DUI and certainly after a stop a driver with a warrant would be arrested.

If you have any kind of case generated from a traffic stop it is important to have an attorney review whether that stop was legal, no matter if it is a drug case for possession or trafficking of marijuana, cocaine or prescriptions, or a DUI or even a driver's license case such as suspended or no valid. For a free consultation click or call today.

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