Many criminal cases such as drug possession, drug trafficking and not just DUI or other criminal traffic charges begin with a mere traffic stop. Until recently, clients were advised that if they are driving a blue car and the registration states the registered vehicle is white then, that alone is a sufficient basis for a stop.
This would mean that if a person purchased a used car that was white, registered it and then had it painted black with red flames the mere fact that the car was painted would cause an inconsistency with the registration sufficient to justify 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 drugs. 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.
While it may seem outrageous that you can be stopped merely for painting your car, 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.
Fortunately, in December 2012 in the First District, held that if the color inconsistency is the only basis for the stop then the stop is illegal. Other district courts within the state disagreed. Therefore, for a while, a person driving a car with an inconsistent registration as to the color in Ocala, would have the stop upheld while 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. Fortunately, the Florida Supreme Court later upheld the ruling and now an inconsistent color cannot be the sole reason for a traffic stop.
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 a driver with a warrant would be arrested after at a traffic stop.
Having any kind of case generated from a traffic stop should 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. Please click, call or fill out the form to hire a lawyer today.
State v. Teamer, 151 So. 3d 421