Articles Posted in Traffic Infractions

Most people are familiar with Miranda warnings which warn a suspect that, among other things, he/she has a right to remain silent and a right to an attorney before the police ask him/her questions about suspected criminal activity. If the police are required to give those Miranda warnings and do not and then ask questions of a suspect, the suspect’s answers will likely be inadmissible at the criminal trial. However, it is not always clear when the police are required to give Miranda warnings. For instance, are the police required to give the Miranda warnings to a suspect during a routine traffic stop before the officer asks the suspect questions about a possible crime? It depends on the circumstances.

For instance, consider a situation that occurred near Jacksonville, Florida that involved two people racing their vehicles, which is a misdemeanor crime in Florida. A police officer observed the race and pulled both vehicles over. He questioned both drivers, and they both admitted to racing. Both drivers were then given notices to appear in court to answer to criminal charges for racing. The police officer did not give the Miranda warnings to the drivers before asking them questions about the suspected racing crime.

The criminal defense lawyers tried to have those statements thrown out of court because the defendants were not given their Miranda warnings before being asked about the racing. The criminal defense lawyers were not successful. Whether a police officer needs to give Miranda warnings before asking investigative questions of a suspect depends on the nature of the encounter between the police officer and suspect. If it reasonably appears to the suspect that he/she is in custody or is under such pressure that his/her right to remain silent seems compromised, the police officer must give Miranda warnings before questioning the suspect about a crime. However, this is a fairly gray area. Some of the factors that determine whether a suspect is “in custody” are: the length of time of the questioning, the number of police officers involved in the encounter, whether the suspect is handcuffed, placed in the police car or otherwise moved to a different location and whether the suspect was searched. If some of these factors are present, the defendant likely has a good argument that he/she should have been given Miranda warnings prior to questioning and any answers he gave about any criminal activity are inadmissible in court. If, as in the racing case referenced above, the police encounter is more consistent with a normal traffic stop that is fairly brief and involves only a few questions while the suspect has not been constrained in any way, there is a good possibility that any answers he/she gives to police questioning could be used against him/her in court even if no Miranda warnings were given.

Most people in Jacksonville and throughout Florida know that it is against the law to drive a vehicle without wearing a seat belt. A violation of this law typically results in a traffic ticket and a fine. It is also fairly common knowledge that many criminal investigations and arrests are initiated after a Jacksonville police officer pulls a car over for a traffic violation and then suspects that a crime is being committed by the driver such as a DUI (aka driving under the influence or DWI) or some type of drug possession.

However, what is not commonly known in Jacksonville and throughout Florida is that while it is illegal to drive without wearing the seat belt, a police officer may not pull a driver over for that reason alone. A seat belt violation is referred to as a secondary offense, which means that a police officer may only give a driver a ticket for that offense after the officer has stopped the driver for a different, primary offense, such as speeding or careless driving. As a result, under the current law, the fact that a driver is not wearing his/her seat belt cannot be used as a basis to pull a driver over and initiate a more serious criminal investigation into a crime such as a DUI or drug possession.

Florida lawmakers are proposing to change this law to make a seat belt violation a primary offense. If they are successful, police officers will have the authority to pull drivers who they have reason to believe are not wearing their seat belts. This would hopefully lead to fewer injuries and deaths resulting from accidents but would also likely lead to more DUI and drug arrests.

A Jacksonville Jaguar practice squad player (Travarous Bain) was arrested Saturday morning for driving with a revoked driver’s license in St. Johns County, Florida, according to an article on According to the officer, Bain was driving 99 miles per hour on State Road 16 near I-95 when he was pulled over.

According to the article, Bain’s license was suspended pursuant to an earlier DUI change. To learn more about penalties resulting from DUI arrests and/or convictions, click here.

The article does not say what the speed limit was in the area where Bain was stopped, but he was fortunate that he was not cited for driving 50 mph or more over the speed limit. Due to a new law that has recently become effective, people who are caught driving 50 miles per hour or more over the speed limit face significantly higher fines and lengthy license suspensions for multiple violations.

Jacksonville, Florida is the second worst city in the country in terms of fatal motor vehicle crashes involving teenagers over the holidays, according a recent report issued by Allstate Insurance Company. The bottom three spots were each held by Florida cities. The Allstate study looked at federal auto crash statistics and the claims for damages made to Allstate over the holidays for the last eight years. The statistics showed that teenagers were involved in more than 5,000 deadly crashes over the holidays during that time period in the U.S. Not surprisingly, fatal vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death among teenagers.

In contrast to the high number of auto accidents resulting in a death involving a teenager in Jacksonville, Florida over the years, Salt Lake City, Utah was considered the safest major city for teenage drivers with only four teenage deaths due to auto accidents over the holidays the last eight years.

Among other solutions, Allstate suggests that parents sit down with teenage drivers and discuss safe driving with them. To assist, Allstate has created a contract between the parents and teenage drivers that helps explain the issues involved with, and the importance of, safe driving.

In Jacksonville and throughout Florida, the fines for traffic violations such as speeding have noticeably increased over the years. However, a new Florida law provides that people who are caught speeding excessively will pay a much greater fine. Drivers who are caught speeding 50 miles per hour over the posted speed limit face a $1,000 fine for a first offense, $2,500 and a one year suspended license for a second offense and $5,000 and a ten year license suspension for a third offense. This is a significant increase compared to the prior law which provided for a $250 fine for anyone caught speeding by 30 miles per hour or more over the speed limit.

Although some people may think that it is rare for a person to be driving so fast in excess of the speed limit, airplanes tracked the speeds of drivers on the highway in South Florida just after this new law went into effect and found 80 people who were speeding at 50 miles per hour or more over the speed limit.

There were other laws that specifically addressed motorcycles. It is now illegal for motorcycle drivers to lift the front wheel off of the pavement. Motorcycle drivers must also attach their license tags horizontally or face a $1,000 fine as police complain about having a difficult time reading the license tags on motorcycles that may be speeding.

Gas prices have become a central issue in Jacksonville and throughout the country as they continue to rise into the summer months with no relief in sight. Americans have established a lifestyle conducive to low gas prices, and many of us are having a difficult time making adjustments to the recent inflated gas prices. Of course, gas prices in Jacksonville and through the United States are not nearly as high as they are in many other countries, like those in Europe, but that is no consolation to people here who pay twice as much or more to fill up their gas tanks than they did a year or two ago.

Police departments, whose officers spend much of their shifts driving, are also having a difficult time working the increased fuel expenses into their budgets. One city in Northwest Georgia is dealing with their budget difficulties due to higher gas prices by adding a $12 fuel surcharge to each ticket for a moving violation, such as speeding, according to an article at The city, Holly Springs, Georgia, is doing this to avoid raising property taxes. According to the article, the Holly Springs police chief has been getting a number of calls from police chiefs and city managers from other cities inquiring about their program. This is the kind of thing that could certainly catch on and spread to other cities.

When does speeding result in more than a traffic violation and become a criminal offense that can get you arrested and thrown in jail? It is not clear, but two Jacksonville drivers were recently arrested for allegedly driving well in excess of the speed limit, according to an article on

In Jacksonville, Florida, there is no standard or law that tells a police officer when to issue a ticket for speeding or when to arrest someone who is speeding. That decision can be made at the discretion of the particular police officer. In this case, two Jacksonville motorcycle drivers were reportedly driving 142 miles per hour in a 65 miles per hour zone on State Road 9A. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office officer stopped them and arrested them. The police officer decided that driving at such an excessive speed went beyond the normal conduct that is typically addressed by a speeding citation and actually became reckless conduct which placed the two motorcycle drivers and others in danger of being injured in an accident.

In Florida, the crime of vehicular homicide occurs when a driver kills another person by driving a motor vehicle in a reckless manner such that another person is likely to die or be seriously injured. One possible defense to the crime of vehicular homicide, particularly in the drag racing context, is whether the cause of death could be attributed to someone other than the defendant, for instance, the victim or another person involved in the accident.

Consider a drag race that occurred in Florida a few years ago that resulted in a conviction for vehicular homicide. The defendant was drag racing with another vehicle occupied by a driver and a passenger. Both cars sped towards a part of the road that narrowed. The other vehicle tried to speed up and pass the defendant, but the defendant also sped up and would not let the other car pass. As the two cars raced towards the narrow portion of the road, the other car lost control and the passenger died. The defendant, who managed to safely stop his car without crashing, was charged with felony vehicular homicide and racing on a highway.

The criminal defense attorney for the defendant argued that the defendant was not guilty of vehicular homicide because his actions did not cause the crash or the death. The criminal defense lawyer argued that the other driver caused the death of his passenger by speeding up and then losing control of his car. Alternatively, the criminal defense lawyer argued that the victim herself caused her death by voluntarily participating in the drag race.

Fines for traffic violations may be issued as a result of video cameras at some of the more dangerous intersections in Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida. The Jacksonville City Council recently approved a plan to put video cameras at ten or more intersections in Jacksonville to catch drivers who run red lights, record their license plate numbers and issue a civil infraction (ranging from $125 to $300) to the owner of the vehicle that ran the red light. There are approximately three hundred cities in the United States that use cameras at intersections to catch drivers running red lights.

According to Florida law, local governments are not allowed to use pictures from cameras installed at intersections to issue traffic tickets. However, the few Florida cities that have such cameras and the cities like Jacksonville that have plans to install the cameras intend to circumvent the law by issuing civil infractions, or violations, instead of tickets. The end result is the same- a fine for the owner of the vehicle that runs the red light.

There are several criticisms of the red light cameras. While there is evidence that these red light cameras reduce the number of drivers who run red lights to some degree and slightly reduce the number of certain types of auto accidents, there is also evidence that the cameras actually increase rear end accidents. According to an article from, there are numerous reports that suggest that the red light cameras cause drivers to slam on their brakes as they approach an intersection to avoid a fine which has resulted in an increase in the number of rear end accidents at these intersections with the cameras. The Federal Highway Administration’s first study of intersections with red light cameras found that there have been 14.9% more crashes at these intersections than what would have been expected at intersections without red light cameras.

DUI (driving under the influence) arrests in Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida often start when a police officer pulls a driver over for some traffic violation. However, the failure of a driver to wear his or her seat belt cannot be the reason for pulling a driver over. Of course, a police officer can give a driver a ticket for not wearing a seat belt after pulling the driver over for another reason such as speeding or another moving traffic violation, but a police officer is not allowed to pull a driver over just because that driver is not wearing a seat belt.

In the most recent Florida legislative session, a proposed law that would make the failure to wear a seat belt a primary offense (in other words, a traffic violation that would permit a police officer to pull a driver over on that basis alone) did not pass. Of course, injury accident statistics overwhelmingly support the conclusion that wearing a seat belt is a good idea, and failing to wear a seat belt can still subject a driver to a fine. However, as of now, it is not a legal basis for pulling a driver over.

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