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Police officer not Obligated to Anticipate Potential Defense

18 october 2014

Police officer not Obligated to Anticipate Potential Defense

In Vinci v. State of Florida, the appellate court addressed two issues, the 1st being probable cause for a traffic stop due to lane weaving and whether or not the police officer had probable cause to take the defendant into custody possession of alprazolam without a valid prescription.

Lane Weaving Violations

Applicable Florida Law, Florida Statute § 316.089(1), reads as follows: "Whenever any roadway has been divided into two or more clearly marked lanes for traffic, the following rules, in addition to all others consistent herewith, shall apply: (1) A vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from such lane until the driver has first ascertained that such movement can be made with safety."

Florida Statute § 316.089(1) does not create a strict liability offense for failing to maintain a single lane. There is no violation of Florida Statute § 316.089(1) if there's no evidence that the failure to maintain a single lane did not create a safety concern or a suspicion that the defendant is impaired.

Possession of a Controlled Substance Without a Prescription

In the instant case, the Sheriff's deputy developed probable cause to stop defendant for DUI after witnessing defendant continuously weaving across lane lanes for approximately 1 mile. The defendant gave him permission to search the vehicle. The officer found 1 pill of xanax inside a prescription bottle labeled Suboxone. The deputy suspected the defendant had committed possession of a controlled substance, & eventually took the defendant into custody for possessing oxycodone & alprazolam without a prescription. Defendant filed a motion to suppress certain evidence and an evidentiary hearing on defendant's motion was held in the circuit court. The trial court granted defendant's motion and suppressed the evidence due to the fact that the illegal nature of the alprazolam pill wasn't immediately apparent, which it must be in order to permit the seizure of items that are within plain view, given that a person could legally have Alprazolam, as compared to the drug cocaine. The Second District Court of Appeal reversed, ruling the deputy did have probable cause sufficient to seize the evidence ruling that the possession of alprazolam in a container that is not for an alprazolam prescription provides probable cause that the defendant is in unlawful possession Although a valid prescription remains a defense, but the deputy wasn't obligated to anticipate defenses. Additionally, the circuit court did not err in determining that the officer had developed reasonable suspicion in order to conduct a traffic stop in order to make a determination as to whether the defendant was impaired.

For additional information concerning Fort Lauderdale Criminal Lawyer ( or DUI Attorney ( please contact us at: The Law Offices of Michael A. Dye, PA 1 E Broward Blvd # 700

Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301