How Florida Police are Combatting the Uptick in Street-Racing and How it Could Impact You

How Florida Police are Combatting the Uptick in Street-Racing

Speeding and Street-Racing is a growing problem in Florida. After a particularly devastating streak of injuries and deaths caused by high-speed street races, including the death of an 11-year-old Florida girl, police have been scrambling to put a stop to it. However, their efforts to stop street racing, which largely rely on over-ticketing and in some instances, may result in a lower bar for probable cause, could pose a real threat to many members of our community who cannot always trust the police to protect them. We are writing this article for those members, whose lives often depend on not getting pulled over.

Reclaiming Your Power by Challenging an Unlawful Stop

Of course, you can do everything right and still get pulled over. This is a tragic reality that we are not intending to ignore. Rather, understanding that this is a current reality, we are giving you the tools to challenge an unjust police stop in court. Police have to have a reason to pull you over. Under Florida law, police must have reasonable suspicion to pull you over, and probable cause to search your vehicle.

The bar for reasonable suspicion is rather low, but it is still a bar that must be met. Reasonable suspicion cannot just be a gut-feeling or a hunch, or anything based on racial profiling or bias. Reasonable suspicion is better described as suspicion that must be supported by clearly articulable, objective facts and/or evidence. For instance, a police officer may suspect someone is speeding because they are driving faster than all of the other cars on the road.

Increased Ticketing for Speeding and Traffic Offenses

The Florida Highway Patrol has been increasing its focus on speeding, putting more officers on highways and roads all across the state who are also on the lookout for any traffic-law violations. In short, it is not a good time to speed, even if you are not racing. Even if you are going only five miles per hour over the speed limit. Troopers will likely aim to issue as many tickets and traffic violations as possible to make it look like they are working to control the problem. It is a good time to make sure that your tags are up to date and that your tail-lights work, as well.

If you are facing criminal charges in central Florida, do not waste any time. Contact HAWM Law and find out how our lawyers can help protect your freedom.

Ticketing Illegally-Modified Vehicles and Confiscating Illegally-Raced Vehicles

In addition to speeding, highway patrol troopers say they are specifically looking for vehicles that have been modified for racing. Troopers say they have issued hundreds of tickets so far this year for illegally modified vehicles. They have also confiscated dozens of cars involved in street-racing. If you have made any modifications to your vehicle, you can use this guide to see if they are in compliance with Florida state law. If not, it is best to correct the illegal modification as soon as possible.

This hyper-focus on vehicle modifications can extend the bounds of probable cause a bit, as a legal modification can be hard to tell from an illegal modification, creating suspicion sufficient to pull someone over. For instance, some tinted windows are legal. Tinted windows are legal if the rear-side and back windows allow at least 15% of light through and the front-side window allows 28% percent of the light through. However, it is not possible to tell if a car traveling at 70 miles per hour has a 28% tint of 29% tint. It is probably not possible for a human eye to make such a distinction at all, which means that any tinted window can potentially provide a pretext for reasonable suspicion. Note that if you do have tinted windows, it is important to get a sticker from the DMV certifying that your tint levels are legally compliant.

Arm Gestures Potentially Sufficient for Reasonable Suspicion

Police are attempting to stop street-racing events before they start. In a recent article, they noted that arm gestures made by a driver out of their window can be a signal to street race, which means they can also be a basis for reasonable suspicion, sufficient to pull you over, so gesture with caution.

Say “No” to Searches

If police ask you if they can search your car, that means they do not have the authority to do so. If they had the power to search it, they would not ask your permission first, they would just tell you to step out of the car. If you give permission to the police to search any part of your car, they can extend the search by citing probable cause at any point and anything they find can be used against you. However, if you do not give them permission and they search anyway, without another legal basis, anything they find will be excluded as evidence. There is far more power in saying no.

Talk to a Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have suffered harm or are facing criminal charges as a result of an unjust and illegal pull-over or vehicle search, the experienced Central Florida personal injury attorneys at HAWM Law are ready to zealously advocate on your behalf and ensure that your rights are protected throughout the legal process. Call today to schedule a free consultation.

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