Motion to Suppress Evidence – Traffic Stop
COMES NOW the Defendant, pursuant to Rule 3.190(h), Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure, and respectfully moves this Honorable Court to suppress the traffic stop in this case, and any evidence derived therefrom, and in support thereof states as follows:
1. On May 5, the client was cited with a criminal violation for allegedly driving while license suspended (“DWLS”), with knowledge, in violation of Florida Statute §322.34(2), a second degree misdemeanor.
2. This citation occurred after, and as a result of a traffic stop for allegedly changing lanes, without signally, as confirmed by Lt. P., in his Uniform Citation Information.
3. However, in changing lanes, the client did not affect any other traffic.
4. After the stop, the client dutifully provided his identification to Lt. P., who, after running this identification, determined that the client’s drivers license had been suspended.
5. A citation for DWLS was thereafter issued.
6. But for the stop, Lt. P. would not have known the identity of the driver of the vehicle changing lanes.
MEMORANDUM OF LAW
A. Traffic Stop – Requires Probable Cause
1. As a preliminary matter, it is important to note the standard for a traffic stop in Florida. It requires probable cause – not mere or even reasonable suspicion.
2. In 1996, the United States Supreme Court decided Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806 (1996), which established a clear test for determining when a traffic stop is reasonable. The Court found “[s]ubjective intentions play no role in the ordinary, probable-cause Fourth Amendment analysis.” Id. at 813 (emphasis added). It held if an officer has probable cause at the time of the stop to believe the individual has “violated the traffic code [then that] render[s] the stop reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.” Id. at 819.
3. Florida courts have, of course, followed this United States Supreme Court holding. In accord, Holland v. State, 696 So. 2d 757, 759 (Fla. 1997) (citing Whren).
B. Changing Lanes Without Signaling
4. Lt. P. stopped (but did not cite) the client for changing lanes, without signaling. The Uniform Citation Information information asserts as follows: “changed lanes w/o signaling. (316.155(1)).
5. F.S. §316.155(1) provides as follows:
No person may turn a vehicle from a direct course or move right or left upon a highway unless and until such movement can be made with reasonable safety, and then only after giving an appropriate signal in the manner hereinafter provided, in the event any other vehicle may be affected by the movement.
6. However, Lt. P. has confirmed the client changed lanes without affecting any other traffic.
7. Since the statute requires, as an express element of this offense, that the client, by changing lanes, had to “affect” another vehicle by this movement, the fact that the client did not affect any other traffic bars prosecution.
8. The Florida Supreme Court has reviewed this statute, and has applied the clear, and unambiguous language of the statute, and, in doing so, focused on the same portion of the statute we have highlighted in ¶B.5 above. In applying the express language of the statute, the Florida Supreme Court stated as follows:
Thus, the plain language of the statute only requires a signal if another vehicle would be affected by the turn.
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If no other vehicle is affected by a turn from the highway, then a signal is not required by the statute. If a signal is not required, then a traffic stop predicated on failure to use a turn signal is illegal and any evidence obtained as a result of that stop must be suppressed.
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Under these circumstances, the driver did not violate section 316.155 and should not have been stopped by the officers. Thus, the evidence obtained as a result of the improper stop was properly suppressed.
State v. Riley, 638 So. 2d 507, 508 (Fla. 1994) (emphasis added).
9. Just as with Riley, so too must the evidence derived from the stop of the client (including his identity) be suppressed.
10. The holding in Hurd v. State, 958 So.2d 600 (Fla. 4th DCA 2007), further confirms the unlawful nature of this stop, and the required suppression of any evidence. Hurd held that,
However, the Florida Supreme Court has held that section 316.155 requires a signal only if another vehicle would be affected by the turn. State v. Riley, 638 So. 2d 507 (Fla. 1994). When no other vehicle is affected by a turn, then a signal is not required by the statute. Id. at 508. If a signal is not required, then a traffic stop predicated on failure to use a turn signal is illegal and any evidence obtained as a result of that stop must be suppressed. Id.; see also Frierson v. State, 851 So. 2d 293 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003), quashed on other grounds, State v. Frierson, 926 So. 2d 1139 (Fla. 2006).
11. Hurd was charged with possession of cocaine and paraphernalia, and appealed the denial of his motion to suppress. The Fourth DCA held that this motion should have been granted and reversed and remand for vacation of the conviction and sentence. Id. at 601. Mr. Hurd was stopped after crossing from the far left hand lane, into the right lane, over a solid white line, and then turning without using a turn signal. The basis for the stop was that the arresting officer claimed to have observed Hurd “commit two traffic violations, the failure to maintain a single lane and a failure to signal.” Id. at 602. After confirming the objective Whren probable cause test governed – and citing Holland v. State, 696 So. 2d 757 (Fla. 1997) for the same principle – the court then looked to see whether there was objective evidence to support the traffic stop. Analyzing the failure to signal, and finding there was no objective basis for that stop, the Hurd court next examined the failure to maintain a single lane basis for the stop. It, too, cited F.S. §316.155(1) – the statute in question here (as well as a sister statute, F.S. §316.089(1)) – and held that, where no other traffic was affected, suppression is mandatory.
12. Here, the testimony of Lt. P. confirms that at no time did the client adversely affect other traffic. Thus, there existed no probable cause for the stop, and all evidence, including the identification of the client, must be suppressed.
WHEREFORE, the defendant respectfully requests the Court to enter an order suppressing all evidence obtained as a result of the stop, including the subsequent identification of the defendant, and any and all statements made by the defendant.