We’ve all had the sinking feeling in the pit of our stomach when a police car pulls behind us, even when their lights and sirens are not active. But as long as we are driving below the speed limit and obeying all other traffic laws we know the police car is likely to just keep on driving when we turn off.
However, police might be looking at other things beside the quality of our driving. With in-car access to advanced and detailed driving records, some with access to a national data base of information, police are on the lookout for more than just unsafe drivers. In one case in particular Florida police pulled over a driver because the van he was driving had been painted a color different from what was reflected on their vehicle registration. Subsequent to the stop police discovered the driver had marijuana and crack cocaine in his vehicle. He was arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to six years in prison.
However, a recent ruling by the Florida appellate court reversed the conviction and freed the driver, because the fact that his vehicle had recently been painted was not justifiable cause for police to pull him over. That means that although the man was discovered to be in possession of illegal drugs, the police would not have discovered that information if they hadn’t pulled him over wrongly in the first place.
This was a win for the convicted felon but a loss for police as it limits their ability to make a traffic stop when they see something suspicious. Apparently the Florida Appeals court doesn’t think a paint job different from what’s on the vehicle registration isn;t suspicious enough for a traffic stop. Even though it resulted in getting a drug user (dealer?) off the streets.