How An Attorney Can Beat A DUI In Fort Walton Beach, Destin Or Anywhere In Okaloosa County After A Stop For “Faulty” Equipment
One of the best ways to get a good result in a DUI case is to file a Motion to Suppress when there is a way to attack the basis for the traffic stop.
We know the usual types of traffic stops. Speeding, Failure to Maintain a Single Lane, Failure to come to a Complete Stop, or a Traffic Light Violation.
And there are legal grounds to challenge those infractions if you take the time to consult with an attorney, which could make the difference in whether or not you are convicted of a DUI.
Today I want to address the “faulty vehicle equipment” stop. The stop could be for an inoperable tag light, headlight, tail light or turn signal, cracked windshield, or window tint that is too dark.
While we have seen a dramatic increase in these types of traffic stops, we have also witnessed some sloppiness with the way police officers are enforcing these laws.
Florida law can be overly specific when it comes to vehicle equipment, and its required maintenance, so much so that a dim headlight, cracked windshield, or broken taillight—depending on the circumstances may not be illegal in all circumstances.
In these cases, we challenge the technical validity of the traffic stop based on an objective basis legal analysis. Cops need to follow the letter of the law in order to preserve liberty for all people…even those accused of breaking the law themselves. This is rooted in our Constitution, and specifically, Article I, Section 12 of the Florida Constitution, the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Filing the Motion to Suppress In Okaloosa County On A DUI Arrest
The Non-Operating Brake Lamp (Real Life Case Example)
We can take note of the fact that a uniformed law enforcement officer, stopped defendant while driving a GMC Van. Said stop was for the alleged faulty equipment infraction, a non-operating right brake lamp.
The Officer issued a citation for the infraction and when defendant’s license was run through the database computer, it came back as being suspended. At that time, the defendant was arrested for Driving while License Suspended.
Then a search of the vehicle incident to that arrest yielded alleged contraband for which defendant is additionally charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance. Citing State v. Burger, 921 So.2d 847 (2006), the 2nd DCA ruled that when a vehicle has two out of three working stop (brake) lamps, it is sufficient under Florida Statutes §316.222(1) and §316.234(1).
In Burger, one of defendant’s “traditional” brake lights was not working. However, in addition to the standard brake lights on each side of the rear of the car, it was also equipped with a third light located in the center of the car.
The trial court concluded as the 2nd DCA affirmed, that if two of the three rear brake lights were operable, then the driver must be in compliance with the statute. Thus, the court affirmed that all information and evidence was suppressed as a result of the unauthorized traffic stop.
The facts involving the case at hand could not be more similar to Burger. Here, the defendant was driving a vehicle equipped with three brake lights, two traditional rear and one center light located in the high center of the rear doors. At the time of the stop, two of the three lights were operational.
Since defendant was in compliance with statutory requirements regarding vehicle equipment at the time of the stop, then, just as in the Burger case, the Court had no choice but to suppress all information and evidence obtained as a result of the unauthorized traffic stop.
In another similar case, a defendant was charged with one count of Possession of a Controlled Substance, one count of Possession of Paraphernalia, and one count of Possession of Marijuana. Involving the same officer, this time stopping Ford Explorer.
Said stop was for the alleged faulty equipment infraction, a non-operating left brake lamp. After the vehicle stop, the officer allegedly obtained consent to search the vehicle, and contraband was found as a result of that search.
Here, the defendant was driving a Ford Explorer, a vehicle that is equipped with three brake lights, and two out of the three were working, so the traffic stop was deemed illegal and the drugs found in the search were suppressed.
If you or loved one has been arrest for DUI in Destin, Fort Walton Beach or elsewhere in Okaloosa County, give me a call for free, initial consultation.