In Florida, many criminal cases involving drugs and guns result from traffic stops. A police officer will conduct a traffic stop and become suspicious or allegedly discover evidence of illegal activity and search the vehicle. A search of the vehicle can be based on consent, which the driver or occupant never has to give. Or, sometimes the police officer will call a drug K-9 to the scene that alerts to the odor of narcotics. These searches can be questionable if the police officer keeps the vehicle and driver at the traffic stop for an unreasonable period of time while waiting for the drug dog. There are other methods the police use to search vehicles after a traffic stop, but requesting consent is a common one.
Not every traffic stop involves a vehicle. People in Florida need to be aware that the traffic laws apply to people on bicycles as well. The police can stop a bicycle for running a stop sign or a red light just like a vehicle. However, the initial stop of the vehicle, or bicycle, must be legally valid in order for any search or arrest thereafter to be valid.
In a recent possession of crack cocaine case south of Jacksonville, Florida, the suspect was riding his bike against traffic. Florida law says a bike must ride with traffic, just like a car must. Of course, people ride their bikes against traffic all of the time and the police ignore it, but in this case, they stopped the rider. While issuing the rider a citation, the police officer asked him if he had any drugs or guns in his possession. The rider admitted to having crack cocaine. The police officer searched him, found the cocaine and arrested him for possession of crack cocaine.