IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA IN AND FOR PINELLAS COUNTY

STATE OF FLORIDA

†††††††††† Appellant,

v.                                          Appeal No. CRC 99-9965 CFANO

WILLIAM R. TOLLEY

†††††††††† Appellee.

________________________/

Opinion filed ______________.

Appeal from a decision of the

Pinellas County Court

County Judge Patrick Caddell

Christopher DeCarlo, Esq.
Assistant State Attorney

Victor Pellegrino, Esq.
Attorney for appellee

ORDER AND OPINION

 

††††† THIS MATTER is before the Court on the Stateís appeal from a decision of the Pinellas County Court to grant the defendantís motion to suppress. After reviewing the briefs and record, this Court reverses the decision of the trial court.

†††††† A deputy saw a pickup truck going into a bar, the Gaslight Lounge, at 11:00 P.M. on a Saturday night. The deputy looked up the tag number and discovered that the registered owner of the truck had a business purposes only license. The deputy, believing that the driver and the registered owner were one in the same, stopped the truck and the two occupants. The driver/defendant, who was the registered owner, was ultimately arrested for driving in violation of his driving license restriction and DUI. The defendant brought a motion to suppress, claiming that the deputy did not have reasonable suspicion to stop the truck. The trial court agreed and granted the defendantís motion to suppress. The State is appealing that decision.

††††††† At issue is whether or not the deputy had reasonable suspicion to stop the defendantís truck. The defendant concedes that the deputy had every right to look up the tag number of any vehicle he sees on the street. The defendant persuaded the trial court, however, that the deputy did not have sufficient information to suspect that the driver of the truck was the registered owner. Smith v. State, 574 So.2d (Fla. 5th DCA 1991) requires reversal of the trial courtís decision. In Smith the court held that ďan officerís investigatory detention of a vehicle is supported by a well founded suspicion of unlawful activity when the officer first determines that the vehicleís registered owner does not possess a valid driverís license.Ē Id. at 301. Smith stands for the proposition that the police do not have to determine if the registered owner and the driver are one in the same prior to making an investigatory stop. All that is needed is the knowledge that the registered owner of the vehicle has an invalid license. There is no difference between an invalid license and a license restricting the driver to work purposes if the officer has observed circumstances that create a reasonable suspicion that the vehicle is not being used for work purposes. That is the situation in the case at bar. Therefore, based upon the holding in Smith the order suppressing the evidence is reversed, and this cause is remanded for action consistent with this Order and Opinion.

†††††† DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers at St.Petersburg, Pinellas County, Florida this _____ day of March, 2001. (Demers and Sullivan, JJ., concur).

 

____________________________
David A. Demers

†Circuit Judge


____________________________
John A. Schaefer
†Circuit Judge


______________________________
†Irene H. Sullivan
Circuit Judge

 

cc:††† State Attorney

†††††††† Victor Pellegrino, Esq.

†††††††† Judge Caddell