Probable Cause Needed for License Check Stops
Drivers often ask whether it is legal for police officers to stop them on whim and check their driver’s licenses. The answer is that like all police stops, there must be ‘probable cause’ that the driver has being doing something wrong. In other words, the officer who stops you and asks to see your license must have a good reason for suspecting that your license was suspended, out of date, or revoked. Failure to have probable cause may be used as a defense against any crime that you are charged with as a result of the stop.
This is an important point as there have been cases where police officers have arrested drivers for serious crimes after a stop and search that did not have probable cause, i.e. the police officer who carried out the action had no reason to suspect that the driver had in fact done anything wrong at all. Any evidence obtained through such a stop may not be admissible in court.
What would be probable cause in a license check stop
In most cases when a police officer has stopped a driver and checked their license the driver was known personally. The police officer may have remembered the driver and his / her vehicle and that the driver’s license was suspended/ revoked/ out of date. In this case, the officer has ‘probable cause’ to stop the driver to check the driver’s license validity. There is a time factor in determining just what is allowed here as a gap of several years between an officer’s memory of an invalid license and a stop to check a license may not be regarded as admissible by a Florida court.
Police officers can follow your vehicle to check your license tag
Police officers are quite within their rights to follow your car without contravening your Fourth Amendment rights to privacy. If they make a check on your license tag and find that it is an invalid license, such as not belonging to the correct type of vehicle and then they can then stop you to question you further and check your driver’s license.
Penalties for license infringements
You are supposed to have a driver’s license on you at all times and if you fail to show it to a police officer at a lawful stop, then you will probably be given a citation. If the reason you didn’t have your license with you was a genuine mistake you may be able to get the citation dismissed at the county clerk’s office with the payment of a dismissal fee on production of an in date valid license.
Driving on a suspended, out of date or revoked license or without possession of any license at all is a misdemeanor offense in Florida. A first offense may result in up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. Second and subsequent offenses have harsher penalties and may involve impoundment of your vehicle.
Defense against a license offense
The main defense against a license offense is that probable cause was not established when your license was checked. You will need an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you mount such a defense. Call renowned Miami criminal defense attorney, Albert Quirantes Esq. as soon as possible after being charged with a license offense. You can contact Albert Quirantes at 305-644-1800.
Albert Quirantes: Your Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer & DUI Lawyer
For over 30 years, Miami criminal defense attorney Albert M. Quirantes has been aggressively and zealously defending the rights of those accused of felony and misdemeanor crimesthroughout South Florida. With his dedicated team, reasonable legal fees, and a well-earned reputation for challenging prosecutors at every turn, he has protected over 8,000 clients during some of the roughest times of their lives.
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If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, please call us today at (305) 644-1800 or fill out our online form to arrange for your free, confidential initial consultation.
If you have any questions about this or any other criminal accusation, call Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Albert Quirantes at: (305) 644-1800 or visit our homepage www.CriminalDefendant.com for a direct link to the office or a text message or a map and directions to our office.