When a Routine Traffic Stop Turns into a Drug Bust

Sometimes traffic stops are anything but routine. Drivers may be pulled over for speeding or running a red light, only to find themselves under arrest and facing serious criminal charges. That’s what happened to a man in Key Largo just a few weeks ago.

On January 12, 2021, at about 11 a.m., Florida Keys deputies pulled over a man driving a Range Rover because the tint on his windows was too dark: a minor traffic infraction that would have likely resulted in a “fix-it ticket” and a fine, only if the driver did not remove the tint. Instead, the man was arrested and now faces felony drug charges.

According to reports, deputies used a drug-sniffing dog to search the Range Rover and found a 10.2-ounce bag of cocaine in the backseat. They also found a fake tire repair kit with a false bottom in the trunk of the vehicle, which could have been used to hide and transport illegal drugs.

Based on this evidence, the driver of the Range Rover currently faces felony drug trafficking and misdemeanor drug paraphernalia charges. The incident happened near mile marker 99 on U.S. Highway 1 in the Florida Keys.

What About Your Constitutional Rights?

While we do not have additional details on this case, we can’t help but ask: why did deputies search the Range Rover in the first place? Routine traffic stops should not turn into vehicle searches without probable cause. If this search was conducted in violation of the driver’s constitutional rights, any evidence recovered should be deemed inadmissible by the court.

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution states that people have the right “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures…” This means that law enforcement officers do not have the right to search or arrest a person without probable cause.

Probable cause is usually established when there is a reasonable basis for believing that a crime has taken place or is currently being committed. An example might be an officer who glances inside a vehicle and spots a bag containing what looks like cocaine in the backseat. Another example may be an officer who hears sounds of an altercation from the outside of a house and enters to investigate. This can be somewhat of a grey area, however, so probable cause may be questioned on a case-by-case basis.

Our Defense Attorneys Fight from Every Vantage Point

Our criminal defense attorneys at Thomas & Paulk, P.A. have proudly fought for defendants and arrestees in the Tampa Bay area for 20 years. We look at every part of a case—each piece of evidence, how it was obtained, witness accounts, and so much more—to attack from all fronts. This leads to better and faster results. Our clients can count on our team to consider why an arrest was made in the first place, particularly in cases where traffic stops and other seemingly routine scenarios turn into arrests and criminal charges.

To get a free consultation, call (813) 321-7323 or contact us online. You can count on our honesty, experience, and commitment to justice.

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