Basic Motorist Laws for Stopping a Motorist

In order for a police officer or other law enforcement agent to stop you while you are driving, Florida motorist law demands that he or she have “reasonable suspicion” to believe that you have either broken a traffic law or that you are engaged in some other criminal activity.

If you’ve been arrested following a traffic stop that was unjust or suspicious, contact a Miami traffic defense attorney who can help argue your case before a court.


A Warrantless Stop is Valid Only under Certain Circumstances

These laws exist to protect citizens and residents of Florida from being constantly harassed or policed by law agents who can pull over and detain any driver at will, and the precedent of reasonable suspicion is one taken very seriously by the courts.

If a police officer cannot show that there was reasonable suspicion that you had broken a law or if you were in the midst of a criminal act then the stop will be considered warrantless.

To get around this, it’s often the case that police will pull someone over for a minor traffic infraction in order to stop the driver to check and see if they have been drinking.

For instance, a police officer may pull over a driver who makes a right turn into the middle lane instead of the curb-side lane to check for evidence of drinking while intoxicated or while under the influence.

For a warrantless stop leading to a DUI arrest to be declared valid, a judge must be convinced that the police officer had good reason to pull you over and that the stop wasn’t arbitrary. If the police officer is unable to demonstrate that their suspicion was in fact reasonable, then the stop may be declared invalid and the charges may be thrown out.


After you’ve Been Stopped by the Police

Once you have been stopped by the police, it is their burden to justify how long you are held and the manner in which you are held.

If you’re pulled over for a traffic violation and a police officer notices that you smell of alcohol or sees open alcohol containers in your vehicle, it’s more than likely that a judge will find that reason enough to detain you further to determine if you were, in fact, drinking or using any other substances while you were operating a vehicle.

While you’re stopped, the police may ask you to conduct a few field sobriety tests, which you should refuse.

Unlike a chemical test, you are under no legal obligation to consent to performing any field sobriety tests and you shouldn’t, considering there are many factors that can contribute to a failed test; still, an adequate performance of the field tests will do only a little to help your case, and any mistake or misstep could be damning. It’s advisable, then, to refuse to perform any field sobriety tests when you are asked to do so by police officers who have stopped you.