What Not to Do at a Traffic Stop: Tales of Florida Man
Anger and fear are normal responses when a police officer pulls you over while you are driving and seems sure that you have drugs in your car, even though nothing about your driving behavior indicates that you are under the influence of drugs, and even though no drugs are visible in your car. Police search cars based on the flimsiest premises all the time, and police K9s respond to cues from human officers at least as much as they respond to the scent of drugs. The traffic stop is as unfair as you think it is, but that doesn’t mean that you are guilty. You will have the chance to tell your side of the story in a court of law, and if law enforcement violated your rights in order to obtain the evidence that the prosecution is using against you, your criminal defense lawyer may be able to persuade the court to exclude that evidence. Here, our Miami drug crimes defense lawyer explains some recent examples of Florida traffic stops where defendants made things worse by trying to stop the police from finding their drugs; it warrants mention that in none of these cases did the defendant’s actions during the traffic stop result in an automatic conviction, and all of them have the right to the presumption of innocence and to due process of law.
Don’t Fake an Illness
Faking illnesses is a popular strategy for kids who are trying to get out of going to school; don’t pretend that you never held the thermometer next to the coffee maker on the day of a math test in a vain attempt to convince your parents that you had a fever. Feigned illnesses are very difficult to pull off, especially in the age of Dr. Google. Meanwhile, first responders must treat reports of medical emergencies seriously and prepare for the worst until a doctor certifies that the patient is stable.
At a traffic stop in Bunnell this summer, police were searching the vehicle for drugs, when the driver began acting as if he were ill and saying that he thought he was having a heart attack. He refused to be examined at the scene. While the man was being transported to the hospital, police found a prescription bottle full of cannabis oil; a field test determined that the oil also contained fentanyl. Meanwhile, at the hospital, doctors found that the man had not suffered a heart attack, so they transported him to the county jail, where his bail was set at $1,000.
Don’t Assume That the Rules Don’t Apply to You
Meanwhile, in Volusia County, police pulled over a vehicle when they saw that the driver was not wearing a seatbelt. The driver, who weighed more than 400 pounds, claimed that no seatbelt could fit him. Because the driver appeared nervous, as anyone would when confronted about his weight that prevented him from wearing a seatbelt, the officer decided to search the car and found cannabis, a handgun, and $7,000 in cash.
Don’t Risk an Overdose Just to Stop the Police From Finding Your Drugs
Back in Flagler County, the site of the fake medical emergency, a drug-related traffic stop resulted in a real medical emergency. The original purpose of the stop was a minor traffic violation. The driver took a while before stopping, and as police approached the car, they noticed that the driver’s clothes were covered in white powder. As he got out of the car, he kept spitting out a white substance. The man was transported to the hospital, where doctors determined that he had attempted to swallow a large quantity of cocaine. He was still hospitalized the following day, when the news report about the traffic stop was published.
What to Do Instead
If the police pull you over, and you are worried that they will find drugs in your car, remember your rights. You must show your driver’s license and vehicle registration, but after that, say that you do not wish to speak to the police unless your lawyer is present. If they ask if they can search your car, say no. If they search it anyway, tell your lawyer. Your lawyer may be able to exclude the evidence or even get the charges dropped.
Contact Our Criminal Defense Attorneys
A South Florida criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are facing criminal charges for drug possession after a traffic stop and a search of your car. Contact Ratzan & Faccidomo in Miami, Florida for a free, confidential consultation about your case.