A Tampa Bay appeals court in a DUI case has issued a ruling applicable to multi-officer DUI traffic stops. The Fellow Officer Rule under Florida law has traditionally been used by law enforcement and prosecutors, when a witness is unavailable to testify in court. It allows one officer to rely on the probable cause information gathered by another ”fellow” officer.
Recently, in a Driving under influence appeal involving the search and seizure of a vehicle, a defendant’s motion to suppress was upheld when testimony of the officer who investigated a DUI case regarding what officer who stopped defendant told him about defendant’s driving was ruled to be inadmissible hearsay. Hearsay testimony of the stopping officer is not admissible to prove that stopping officer witnessed the driver commiting a traffic law violation.
The court stated, “[t]he fellow officer rule provides a mechanism by which officers can rely on their collective knowledge to act in the field. Under this rule, the collective knowledge of officers investigating a crime is imputed to each officer and one officer may rely on the knowledge and information possessed by another officer to establish probable cause.”
Then the court ruled, The fact that [the second cop] was called to the scene after the stop was completed for the purpose of performing a separate DUI investigation does not make him a fellow officer for purposes of determining whether there was probable cause to support the traffic stop.
The complete Ruling is available here: Complete Ruling in Florida DUI Case
Two Officers in Your DUI Case? Tell Me Your Story Toll Free – 1-877-793-9290 .
Source: 34 Fla. L. Weekly D2140a
Florida DUI Probable Cause