|DUI Traffic Stop
Driving Under the Influence DUI Attorney notes a recent decision where the trial court threw out charges where the police blocked a car that was legally stopped at an intersection for a stop sign. The court found that a police officer that conducted an investigatory stop. He blocked the defendant’s parked vehicle with his patrol car. The court noted the vehicle was parked at stop sign in high crime area for 90 seconds and that could not provide reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop where officer did not observe anything that showed the defendant was DUI or ill.
“Deputy Avery testified that on April 21, 2008, between 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m., he was on duty when he observed Appellee’s vehicle stopped and parked at an intersection in Deerfield Beach, in an area with a high crime rate, known for prostitution and drug dealings. (Tr. at 15-16, 19). Deputy Avery further testified that he could not tell if the vehicle was occupied, so he drove around the block to approach it at a different angle. (Tr. 15-16). It took him forty-five seconds to a minute to go around the block and he estimated that Appellee’s car was parked at the intersection for at least one minute and a half. (Tr. at 16, 17). When Deputy Avery pulled in front of Appellee’s vehicle, he could see that there was at least one person in the car. (Tr. at 17). The lights of Appellee’s vehicle were on and the engine was running. (Tr. at 17). Deputy Avery had his spotlight on Appellee’s vehicle and approached the vehicle with a flashlight. (Tr. at 17, 18, 38). He testified that the reason why he approached the vehicle was because he had no idea why Appellee was parked on the road and he was concerned that Appellee was ill. (Tr. at 18,
“[T]his Court finds that the trial court did not err in granting Appellee’s Motion to Suppress, since there was a seizure when the police officer pulled in front of Appellee’s vehicle and shined his spotlight on Appellee’s vehicle, and the seizure was not supported by reasonable suspicion or probable cause. “
The trial Judge “made the following findings based on the case law and arguments presented by the parties: (1) pursuant to Stennes v. State, 939 So.2d 1148 (Fla. 4th DCA 2006) [31 Fla. L. Weekly D2605b], there was a seizure when Deputy Avery pulled in front of Appellee’s vehicle and shined his spotlight on Appellee’s vehicle, thus blocking his way and leading a reasonable person to believe that he would not be free to leave (Tr. at 82); (2) the obstruction of traffic was not at issue in this case, since the deputy testified that there was no traffic on the road and, therefore, there was no probable cause to stop Appellee’s vehicle for obstructing traffic (Tr. at 82-83); and (3) the wellbeing argument made by the State pursuant to State v. DeShong, 603 So.2d 1349 (Fla. 2d DCA 1992) was factually insufficient because there were no articulable facts on the record to support Deputy Avery’s conclusion that Appellee might have been ill, other than the fact that Appellee had stopped at the stop sign for a minute and a half. (Tr. at 83). Based on these findings, the court granted Appellee’s Motion to Suppress.”
“The Supreme Court of Florida recognized three levels of police-citizen encounters. Popple v. State, 626 So.2d 185, 186 (Fla. 1993). The first level is that of a consensual encounter and involves minimal contact with the police. Id. The second level is that of an investigatory stop, which allows a police officer to reasonably detain a citizen temporarily if the officer has a reasonable suspicion that a person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime. Id. For an investigatory stop to be legal, the police officer must have well-founded, articulable suspicion not just a mere suspicion of criminal activity. Id. The third level of encounter involves an arrest for which the arresting officer must have probable cause that a crime has been or is being committed. Id. “
See Also: Stennes v. State, 939 So.2d 1148 (Fla. 4th DCA 2006) [31 Fla. L. Weekly D2605b]
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Source: STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellant, vs. LARRY KOEHLER, Appellee. Circuit Court, 17th Judicial Circuit (Appellate) in and for Broward County. Case No. 09-000093AC10A