Petition for Writ of Certiorari to Review Quasi-Judicial Action, Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles:  DRIVER’S LICENSES – Traffic Stop – failure to maintain single lane – Department departed from the essential requirements of law by failing to invalidate traffic stop – there was not an objectively reasonable basis to conduct the traffic stop -- there was not competent substantial evidence that Petitioner’s vehicular movements created a danger to himself or other traffic – no evidence that officer suspected Petitioner was driving under the influence or that officer conducted traffic stop to determine if Petitioner was ill or tired -- Petition granted.  Boyd v. Dept. of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, No. 02-9322CI-88B (Fla. 6th Cir. App. Ct. March 1, 2004).

 

 

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT

IN AND FOR PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA

APPEALLATE DIVISION

 

 

CHARLES W. BOYD

            Petitioner,

 

vs.                                                                                Appeal No. 03-5038AP-88B

                                                                                    UCN522003CA005038XXXXCV

STATE OF FLORIDA,

DEPARTMENT OF HIGHWAY

SAFETY AND MOTOR VEHICLES,

            Respondent.

 

________________________________/

 

 

ORDER GRANTING PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI

 

THIS CAUSE came before the Court on the Petition for Writ of Certiorari and the Response.  Upon consideration of the same, the record and being otherwise fully advised, the Court finds the Petition must be granted as set forth below.

            The Petitioner, Charles W. Boyd (Boyd), seeks review of the Final Order of License Suspension, entered June 19, 2003, in which the hearing officer for the Respondent, Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (Department), concluded that Boyd’s driving privileges were properly suspended for a period of eighteen months for driving under the influence (DUI) and refusing to submit to a breath test.  In reviewing the Department’s order, this Court must determine (1) whether procedural due process had been accorded, (2) whether the essential requirements of law had been observed, and (3) whether the administrative findings and judgment were supported by competent substantial evidence.  See Vichich v. Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 799 So.2d 1069, 1073 (Fla. 2d DCA 2001) (setting forth the standard of review for administrative action taken by the Department).

            The Court accepts Boyd’s argument that the hearing officer’s decision to sustain his license suspension was not supported by competent substantial evidence. 

            This case is in much the same posture as the one recently addressed by the Florida Supreme Court in Dobrin v. Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle, --- So.2d ---, 2004 WL 306051 (Fla. Feb. 19, 2004).  In that case, the officer stopped petitioner’s vehicle for failure to maintain a single lane.  Similarly to this case, the circuit court had only the record evidence of the paperwork that the officer filed as a result of the traffic stop.  Upon review, the circuit court held that there was no competent substantial evidence to support the traffic stop.  The court concluded that (1) the facts contained in the arrest report did not provide probable cause to stop petitioner’s vehicle for failure to maintain a single lane; (2) the record did not support the traffic stop on the basis of speeding because the record did not indicate that the petitioner was speeding; and (3) the officer was not justified in stopping the petitioner to determine whether he was ill, tired, or driving under the influence because the arrest report did not indicate that the officer stopped petitioner for impairment.  Id.  The Supreme Court upheld the ruling because the circuit court used the proper test, which was whether the particular officer who initiated the traffic stop had an objectively reasonable basis for making the stop. 

            In our case as in Dobrin, the facts contained in the report did not provide probable cause to stop Boyd’s vehicle for failure to maintain a single lane.  See Jordan v. State, 831 So.2d 1241,1243 (Fla. 5 DCA 2002) (it is not possible to maintain a lane at all times, thus, the crucial concern is safety rather than precision).  See Crooke v. State, 710 So.2d 1041, 1043 (Fla. 2d DCA 1998) (probable cause requires objective evidence that the driver’s conduct created a reasonable safety concern).  Additionally, the officer was not justified in stopping Boyd to determine whether he was ill, tired, or driving under the influence because the report did not indicate that impairment was the reason that Boyd was stopped.  Clearly Dobrin compels this Court to grant the petition.

            Therefore, it is

ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the Petition for Writ of Certiorari is granted.

DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers, at Clearwater, Pinellas County, Florida this ______ day of February 2004.

                                                            __________________________

                                                            DAVID A. DEMERS

                                                            Circuit Judge, Appellate Division

 

 

Copies furnished to:

Roger D. Futerman, Esquire

13620 49th Street No –Suite 201

Clearwater, FL 33762

 

Rhonda F. Goodman, Assistant General Counsel

Fla. Dept. of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles

2515 West Flagler Street

Miami, FL 33135

 

Bureau of Driver Improvement

2814 East Hillsborough Avenue

Tampa, FL 33610