Knowing Your Rights When Pulled Over in Florida

It is a normal reaction to be stressed or afraid when you get pulled over in Florida. But drivers have traffic stop rights – and law enforcement officers have a duty to obey those rights. If they do not, you may be able to contest citations and even have charges dropped if you get arrested.

There are also certain things that you should do when you get pulled over in Florida. When you act accordingly, this helps to keep the situation from escalating — and can keep you from incriminating yourself too.

When you know your rights at a traffic stop, it can make a big difference in your future, including your ability to drive, your freedom, and your ability to make a living.

Florida Traffic Stop Laws

Understanding Florida traffic stop laws is crucial for protecting your rights and ensuring you handle the situation appropriately. Here are key points you should know:

Right to Be Pulled Over for a Valid Reason

  • Reasonable Suspicion: Law enforcement must have reasonable suspicion to pull you over. This means they must observe a traffic violation or suspect you are involved in criminal activity.
  • Probable Cause: If the stop escalates, such as conducting a search or making an arrest, officers need probable cause. This higher standard requires more concrete evidence of a crime.

What to Do When Pulled Over

  • Safe Stop: Slow down, signal, and pull over safely to the right side of the road. Turn off your engine and remain in your vehicle with your hands visible on the steering wheel.
  • Documentation: Be prepared to provide your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. Inform the officer before reaching for these documents to avoid sudden movements.

Right to Remain Silent

  • Basic Information: You are required to provide your name and identification documents.
  • No Self-Incrimination: Beyond basic information, you have the right to remain silent. Politely inform the officer that you are invoking your right to remain silent to avoid self-incrimination.

Consent to Searches

  • Vehicle Searches: Officers cannot search your vehicle without your consent, a warrant, or probable cause. You can calmly state that you do not consent to a search.
  • Search of Person: Similar rules apply to searching your person. Without probable cause or a warrant, you can refuse consent for a search.

Sobriety Tests

  • Field Sobriety Tests: You have the right to refuse field sobriety tests, although refusal may lead to arrest if the officer has other evidence of impairment.
  • Breathalyzer Test: Florida’s implied consent law means refusing a breathalyzer test results in an automatic license suspension. However, your attorney may challenge this in court.

Right to an Attorney

Legal Representation: If arrested, you have the right to an attorney. Contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately to protect your rights.

Traffic Stop Rights in Florida

People get pulled over in Florida for many different types of reasons. Law enforcement may believe you are driving under the influence or have committed another traffic violation, or they may think you are in trouble and need help, or they may believe you witnessed a crime, among other possibilities. More than likely, at least once in your lifetime, the odds are you will get pulled over in Florida if you live and drive in the state.

Your Traffic Stop Rights – Scenario #1

Pulled Over in Florida Scenario #1You are driving home late at night after attending a party. You had a few drinks but thought that you were okay to drive. Blue lights flash in your rearview mirror, and you hear a quick wail of a siren.

Slow down and look for the nearest safe place and pull over on the side of the road. Turn the car off and keep your hands on the wheel.

The law enforcement officer will typically ask for your driver’s license and registration. They have the right to ask for these. Do not make sudden movements and tell the officer when you are reaching for them.

After they review your documentation, the officer may ask you questions like, “How many drinks have you had?” or “Have you been at a bar tonight?”

You Have the Right to Remain Silent

You do have to tell the officer your name, but you do not have to say anything else. Particularly anything that may incriminate you. It is important not to be argumentative to keep the situation from escalating. Be polite and inform the officer that you are invoking your right to remain silent.

If they ask you to get out of the car, you must comply. It is the same as being detained.

You May Refuse a Sobriety Test

You may refuse the physical test or the breathalyzer, even though Florida is an implied consent state when you get behind the wheel. However, your driver’s license would be suspended. Your lawyer may be able to fight the suspension and get it back. If you have a blood alcohol level on the record of over 0.08%, you will almost certainly find yourself slapped with a DUI.

If you get arrested for DUI, do not admit to anything, and do not apologize. Call an attorney as soon as possible. You may be able to have the charges reduced or even dismissed, depending on what happened during the traffic stop. Even if you do admit it, it is not hopeless. Always contact an attorney.

Your Traffic Stop Rights – Scenario #2

Pulled Over in Florida Scenario #2You are driving 70 miles per hour in a 65-mile-per-hour zone, and you get pulled over in Florida. You are feeling very stressed and upset because you have more than 20 grams of cannabis in the trunk of your car. It is important to stay calm and slow down, pull over, and follow the instructions of the law enforcement officer.

You do need to hand over your license and registration, but as mentioned above, you have the right to remain silent and can invoke that right. After the officer reviews your documentation, he/she asks you to get out of the car. You must comply. Do your best to stay calm and keep your hands where they can see them. Pay attention to what the officer says and does.

Law enforcement then asks you to submit to a search of your person and/or your vehicle.

You Do Not Have to Give Your Consent for a Search

If the officer does not have probable cause or a warrant, they should not perform a search of your person or of your vehicle. You can state to the officer calmly and clearly that you do not give your consent for a search.

Although, it is important not to resist the search. This could lead to additional criminal charges. If they proceed with the search and arrest you for possession of cannabis, your criminal defense attorney may be able to get the charges dropped or reduced due to no clear probable cause or presence of a warrant. Even though you did have possession of a controlled substance, the officer still has rules he/she must follow when conducting a traffic stop.

FAQs on Florida Traffic Stop Laws

Let’s now break down some common FAQs related to Florida traffic stop laws.

Do I have to answer questions asked during a traffic stop?

You are required to provide your name and identification documents.

Beyond basic information, you have the right to remain silent. Politely inform the officer that you are invoking your right to remain silent to avoid self-incrimination.

Can I be arrested for refusing a sobriety test?

Refusing a sobriety test can lead to immediate arrest if the officer believes there is sufficient evidence of impairment.

Refusal also leads to an automatic license suspension, which can be challenged in court by your attorney.

What should I do if the police ask to search my car without a warrant?

  • Refuse Consent: Politely refuse consent for a search. Clearly state, “I do not consent to a search.”
  • Do Not Resist: Do not physically resist a search if the officer proceeds without your consent. Instead, note that you did not consent and contact an attorney.
  • Document: Try to remember and document the details of the search for your attorney.

Can I refuse to exit my vehicle during a traffic stop?

You must comply if an official officer asks you to exit the vehicle. Refusing to do so can result in arrest or additional charges.

Exit the vehicle calmly and keep your hands visible to ensure your safety and that of the officer.

Have You Been Arrested at a Traffic Stop? Call Dean Tsourakis today.

If you were pulled over in Florida and arrested, Dean Tsourakis is an experienced criminal defense attorney that can defend your rights at a traffic stop. He believes strongly in traffic stop rights and fights hard to defend the rights of Florida drivers.

Did you invoke your right to remain silent, and law enforcement kept asking you questions to harass you into admitting guilt?

Do you believe that law enforcement searched your person or vehicle at a traffic stop without probable cause?

Your traffic stop rights can play a significant role in the outcome of your case. If your rights were violated, you might be able to get the charges reduced or even dropped completely. Getting convicted of a crime, whether it is a first-time offense or not, can have a major impact on your freedom and your future.

With many years of working with the complex processes and procedures in the criminal justice system, Dean G. Tsourakis understands what it takes to get the best possible results.

Contact the Law Office of Dean Tsourakis today to schedule a free, confidential consultation.