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Traffic Stops and Drug Sweeps by Philip J. Bonamo, Partner Florida Bar Board Certified Criminal Defense Attorney

police giving man a traffic ticket

The Florida Supreme Court, in a 5-1 Opinion, ruled this month that law enforcement can
order a driver out of their vehicle they have pulled over for a routine traffic stop, for officer
safety before conducting a vehicle sweep. The Court stated, ‘[w]e hold that binding Fourth
Amendment precedent permits a K-9 officer arriving mid-way through a lawful traffic stop to
command the driver to exit the vehicle for officer safety before conducting a lawful vehicle
sweep.”
The case stemmed from a 2018 incident in which Tampa Police officers pulled over a
person, after he maneuvered through a gas station to avoid a red light. Two officers approached
the vehicle, including one in plain clothes, who asked the man to search the vehicle, to which he
refused. The officer called for a K-9 unit to do a ‘sweep’ of the vehicle. The uniformed officer
was still in the process of completing the citation for the man when the K-9 unit arrived. The
driver refused requests to search the vehicle and an order to exit the vehicle while the K-9 unit
conducted the sweep. The officers then arrested him for obstruction and resisting without
violence, and then found drugs in the car.
If you have been arrested, accused, or charged with any type of crime, and you would like
to discuss your case and discuss legal representation and options, please give me a call. The
initial consultation is free.