In Florida, a lot of drug arrests stem from simple traffic stops. One way for a criminal defense attorney to attack such a case would be to challenge the legality of the initial stop. While this may be difficult when a police officer is prepared to testify that the suspect violated some traffic law, sometimes police officers make mistakes when they pull people over.
In a recent case near Jacksonville, Florida, a police officer stopped a suspect driving on the highway for apparently driving too slowly. The speed limit on the highway was 65 miles per hour, and the suspect was driving 45 miles per hour. The minimum speed was 40 miles per hour. After the police officer stopped the suspect. The police officer discovered that the suspect had a suspended license and arrested the suspect. The police officer also found a gun and cocaine in the car. The suspect ended up with felony and misdemeanor charges as a result of the traffic stop.
The criminal defense lawyer filed a motion to suppress all of the evidence leading to all of the charges because the initial stop was not valid. The suspect was not breaking any traffic laws so that would not be a legitimate basis to stop him. However, a traffic violation is not the sole legal basis for a police traffic stop. A police officer could arguably stop a driver if there was a reasonable belief that the driver was having some sort of medical problem. Police are allowed to stop a person and investigate if there is specific evidence of some kind of serious health issue. Alternatively, if the suspect was causing some type of traffic problem, that could be a legal reason to conduct a traffic stop.
In this case, the police officer testified that the suspect was impeding traffic so he stopped him. The court determined this was not a valid reason for a stop. Since it was permissible to drive 45 miles per hour on the highway, while it might slow other drivers down, it was not so problematic as to allow a police officer to stop the vehicle. Since the slow driving was legal behavior, a police officer would need more to conduct a traffic stop.
Since the initial stop was invalid, all of the evidence the police officer discovered after the stop was thrown out, and the charges were dismissed.