|Attorney on License Suspension|
Attorney / Lawyer Notes a Driver’s License Suspension was invalidated when there was not enough evidence to prove there had been a valid traffic stop. Florida Driver’s licenses can be suspended in Driving Under the Influence cases where it is alleged there has been a Refusal to submit to breath test.
Previously courts have ruled the Lawfulness of a traffic stop cannot be reviewed at a hearing held at the DHSMV Bureau of Administrative Reviews. Typically, Hearsay from the arresting officer includes what a fellow officer has told him/her about why the initial traffic stop was initiated. A court just ruled that the so-called “Fellow Officer Rule” rule does not eliminate rules regarding hearsay. That court found that the Testimony of the arresting deputy about information relayed to him by stopping officer regarding basis for stop is hearsay and is not sufficient to establish reasonable cause for stop. Driver got license back.
“There is presently a conflict among the district courts of appeal as to whether the officer initiating the stop can form the basis for a reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop or probable cause for arrest by subsequent investigating officers.”
“ In Bowers v. State, 23 So.3d 767 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2009) [34 Fla. L. Weekly D2384a], the court found:”
“The fellow officer rule is not a rule of evidence. It does not change the rules of evidence. And, it is not one of the enumerated exceptions to the hearsay rule.”
“The fellow officer rule, which is sometimes referred to as the collective knowledge doctrine, is premised on the theory that the collective knowledge of police investigating a crime is imputed to each member of the investigation. Dewberry v. State, 905 So.2d 963, 967 (Fla. 5th DCA 2005) [30 Fla. L. Weekly D1594a]. “An ‘arresting officer is not required to have sufficient firsthand knowledge to constitute probable cause. It is sufficient if the police officer initiating the chain of communication. . . had firsthand knowledge.’ ” Ferrer v. State, 785 So.2d 709, 711 (Fla. 4th DCA 2001).”
“[T]his Court finds that the holding in Bowers is eminently more logical and fair.”
“Though hearsay is admissible in a formal administrative hearing, there are limits to which hearsay may be used as a basis for an administrative finding. Strickland v. Florida A&M Univ., 799 So.2d 276 (Fla. 1st DCA 2001) [26 Fla. L. Weekly D2238a]; Tassone v. Unemployment Appeals Comm’n, 662 So.2d 1003 (Fla. 1st DCA 1995). It may be used to supplement or explain other, non-hearsay, evidence. Dieguez v. Dept. Of Law Enforcement, 947 So.2d 591 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2010) [32 Fla. L. Weekly D151a].”
“[T] the fellow officer rule did not abrogate the rules regarding hearsay, and the state should not be permitted to characterize hearsay as the fellow officer rule to establish a reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop.”
Source: FLWSUPP 1803MCDA
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