In the drug defense subset of criminal defense an amazing number of cases begin at a traffic stop. One example is issues with the license plate or tag, whether it is the infamous tag light, expired tag or an obscured tag. These stops are difficult to defend without a video showing the cops to be incorrect (or worse).
Tampering with evidence is a criminal offense in Florida. Tampering with evidence is a third degree felony; the maximum penalty is five (5) years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine. To prove tampering, the State has to prove that a person while knowing that a criminal trial, proceeding or an investigation has begun or is about to be started, then alters, destroys, conceals or removes anything with the intent to impair its credibility, availability or use-ability in trial. Many times tampering is not what is shown by the entertainment industry like fabrication or threatening a witness; instead several tampering cases begin at the all important traffic stop and escalates when an officer thinks that evidence is tossed, thrown or eaten.
Recently, the Gainesville Police Department announced that it will begin a "Click it or Ticket" campaign. Some will feel as if this is really to generate revenue or is really a fishing expedition. Several years ago, the law changed allowing police to stop cars when the driver or a passenger is not belted. Before that, an officer could not conduct a traffic stop merely for not wearing a seatbelt. Presently, an officer in Florida can pull you over just for not wearing a safety belt.
Practicing criminal law or being involved in the criminal justice system is never boring. Recently a caller to 911 asked "where can I buy some marijuana this morning?" This call looking to buy pot from the police almost sounds like a joke.
Drug trafficking cases can include a conspiracy to traffic element. In Florida a conspiracy to engage in trafficking is committed when any person agrees, conspires combines, confederates, etc with another person to commit any act prohibited by section 893.135. Generally conspiracies are punished the same as the actual crime charged, such as trafficking, except that they are scored one level lower for purposes of the score sheet.
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.
In criminal cases, searches resulting from vehicle stops have been hotly litigated since the automobile became available to the public in mass. Since cars are mobile and not as private as your home, the Supreme Court has interpreted the constitution to give vehicle searches and seizures less protection.