Were You Stopped by a Police Officer for a Cracked Windshield?
If you were stopped by a police officer because he/ she said that there was a visible crack in your vehicle’s windshield, the stop may have been illegal. That means that anything the officer discovered during that stop may not be admissible in court if the officer decides that you had committed any other crime or even just a citation for a
Cracked windshield stops are quite common in Florida, perhaps because they are easy to spot. A passing officer on a motorcycle or police car may glace round out of curiosity and see a crack in the windshield. Whether it is a valid reason for stopping you or not depends to a large extent on how big the crack is and whether it could endanger person(s) or property. That could come down to the difference between a two inch crack, which may have been on the driver’s windshield for a couple of years and a sizable part of the windshield that is crazed with cracks and probably obscures the safe view of the driver.
Police have the right to check vehicles for ‘unsafe conditions’
No-one in their right mind would suggest that vehicles should be driving around Florida highways in an unsafe condition as it could put any of us in danger. Florida Statutes Section 316.610 define what is considered ‘unsafe’ and also the provisions involved which regulate what police officers can do without violating drivers’ Fourth Amendment rights to privacy.
Section 316.610 goes into detail about what vehicle conditions are regarded as unsafe. As far as windshields are concerned it mentions that they should be:
• fixed upright with safety glazing; • must have windshield wipers that are in good working order; • not have prohibited stickers or sun shading that obscures the view of the driver.
As the part of the provisions that deals with windshields does not specifically mention damage to the windscreen, other parts of Section 316.610 must be searched to see whether a windscreen crack check is admissible for a stop by a police officer. The only other provision is the first paragraph of 316.610 which refers to unsafe conditions as those that can “endanger any person or property.”
Basically, taking the two portions together, i.e. the portion that refers directly to windshields and the introductory paragraph; it doesn’t provide evidence that a crack in the windshield allows a police officer to stop a vehicle for a safety inspection.
The question of admissibility has already been tested by Florida’s Supreme Court. In Hilton v. State, 961 So. 2d 284, 290-92 (Fla. 2007), the Supreme Court made two rulings. One was that a police officer could only stop a vehicle if the vehicle’s windshield was thought to be a danger to person or property and also that this was inadmissible because Section 316.2952 didn’t mention cracks in the windshield anyway.
Drivers are stopped on a routine basis by overzealous police officers hoping to get a reputation for a high arrest rate.
In many cases, their actions are not admissible in court if the stop leads to any kind of charge being laid against the driver. However, it may not be easy to defend yourself against an inadmissible charge unless you get help from an experienced criminal defense attorney. Call renowned Miami criminal defense attorney, Albert Quirantes Esq. if you need help with a traffic citation of any kind or you have been charged with a criminal offense after a stop for a cracked windshield. 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 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.