Skip to comments.Court: Cops can't stop drivers based on the color of their cars [FL]
Posted on 07/10/2014 1:22:14 AM PDT by Slings and Arrows
"Probable cause" has long been one of those terms that made the jump from legal jargon to household term, especially with regards to drivers who get pulled over. The struggle over what that allows on American roads and what it doesn't took a new turn last week with a Florida ruling that threw out a conviction stemming from a police officer who found something wrong with the color of a car.
In 2010, a deputy in Florida's Escambia County saw one Kendrick Van Teamer drive by in a bright green Chevrolet. The deputy ran his plates, and found the registration matched a blue Chevrolet. There were no warrants out for Teamer, no reports of stolen vehicles and no pending crimes that involved either a blue or green Chevy. Teamer also wasn't violating any traffic laws.
But the deputy pulled Teamer over anyway, simply because of the mismatch of the car's color. Teamer said the car had been recently painted, which was true. It also contained small amounts of cocaine, marijuana and $1,100 in cash. Teamer was charged with drug trafficking and possession, convicted and sentenced to six years in prison.
Teamer appealed, and last week as noted by The Newspaper, the Florida Supreme Court ordered him freed on a 5-2 decision, upholding a lower appeals court ruling that the deputy was wrong to stop Teamer simply becuase the color of his car didn't match its registration. The court noted that in numerous U.S. Supreme Court rulings, justices have found police can't pull someone over for everday behavior that's not linked to a crime, saying Teamer's stop was not different from those triggered by the race of the driver:
(Excerpt) Read more at autos.yahoo.com ...
Amazing. He actually caught a drug trafficker and the judge lets him go.
Thanks media for announcing to all the drug traffickers how to get the drugs past the cops to the schools.
Amazing. He actually caught a drug trafficker (with that strategy)
So if the driver hadn’t been a drug dealer, would the search still be justified?
I didn’t say the search was justified. It’ a dumb reason to pull someone over.
That doesn’t make him not guilty of having those drugs.
And this isn't from the Onion?
Cars have race too??
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The search commenced because of the marijuana odor emanating from the car. That part was justified; it was the reason for the stop that wasn’t. Good hunch on the deputy’s part...this time; too bad a drug-dealer was able to go free, though.
Of course this means that virtually every time a criminal defendant wins a motion to suppress and is therefore acquitted, a guilty man escapes justice because, by definition, he was found with the goods.
The point is how do you want to balance the right to privacy against society's interest in obtaining the conviction of the guilty? Your right to make that balance by way of legislation enacted by your elected representatives was taken away by unelected justices. The idea of the Bill of Rights is to immunize certain unpopular rights from the will of the majority and that is properly done by unelected judges. But should that extend to the remedy for violation of that right?
On the bright side, it’s one less pretext that the cops can use to violate the Constitutional rights of the citizenry.
This is a case of two wrongs making a right.
I’m forced to agree with the Warren court. Cops and prosecutors are symbiotic organisms; under most circumstances, the latter have a strong interest in ignoring the transgressions of the former. Removing the incentive for the trangressions is the best way to reduce (although not eliminate) the transgressions.
How many cars have been stopped because of color that were not drug dealers? I am one.
The lesson learned by the cops on this one is that if the color of car doesn’t match registration, then stop him for another reason. That would not be hard. There are a myriad of minor reasons they could use such as failure to use signal when changing lanes, weaving, equipment problem, cracked windshield, and on and on.
( I agree!!)
All of you are insane if you want leo’s stopping and pulling over any driver for any reason just because they think the guy might have something illegal in his car. Next thing you know, they might be knocking down the door to your home because somebody told them you might have drugs there.........oh wait.
I would say that in this case the stop itself was justified.
It is illegal to drive with improper plates, and since there is no way to check VIN numbers while a car is going down the road, it was reasonable to assume the plate didn’t match the wrong colored vehicle.
Had the car’s body been changed to make it appear to an entirely different vehicle it would be the same thing, a reasonable stop to make sure the plate wasn’t stolen.
Most people would never notice if their plate was stolen and replaced with a different plate, most don’t even know their plate number without checking. I don’t know mine.
You wouldn’t want some committing crimes while driving with your license plates would you? That could lead to far more problems and hassle than being stopped to check a plate match.
IMO it was a perfectly reasonable legal stop.
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