Florida Police Officer Was Justified in Stopping Vehicle Where Window Tint Was Too Dark to See Driver

In Florida, a police officer can stop a vehicle if the vehicle’s window tinting is too dark. The Florida statute provides that the side windows on a vehicle must have a light transmittance of at least 28% in the visible light range. This can be measured by certain devices after the initial stop is made. Of course, the initial issue is whether a police officer is permitted to stop a vehicle based on his/her opinion that the window tinting is too dark and illegal. A person cannot usually make that determination for certain based on looking at it from another vehicle.

A police officer is allowed to stop a vehicle if he/she has probable cause to believe a crime is being committed or a traffic law is being violated. In a recent case near Jacksonville, Florida, a police officer stopped a vehicle during the day because he could not see the driver through the side window due to the window tinting. He stopped the driver and found marijuana and cocaine inside. The driver was arrested for possession of marijuana and cocaine. The criminal defense lawyer filed a motion to suppress claiming that the police officer did not have a legal basis to make the initial traffic stop. The police officer testified that he pulls drivers over if the window tinting is too dark for him to see the driver. The court allowed this. Since the police officer has no way of determining for certain if window tinting is too dark as the vehicles are driving, if the police officer can establish in good faith that he had probable cause to believe it was too dark, it was a valid stop. The court found that the testimony that the police officer could not see the driver in the daylight was sufficient to establish a good faith basis that the window tinting was not legal.

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