for Writ of Certiorari to Review Quasi-Judicial Action, Department of Highway
Safety and Motor Vehicles: DRIVER’S LICENSES – traffic stop – traffic stop
for careless driving was lawful – competent substantial evidence in the record
to find driver’s behavior posed a safety risk to others – driver was observed
“power braking” several times behind a stopped vehicle – reasonable to infer
that stopped vehicle accelerate at a high rate of speed to avoid collision
– officer had sufficient facts to establish driver was not operating truck
in a careful and prudent manner --Petition denied.
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
vs. Appeal No. 04-0037AP-88B
HIGHWAY SAFETY AND MOTOR VEHICLES,
DIVISION OF DRIVER LICENSES,
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 that the Petition must be denied as set forth below.
The Petitioner, Miles Murray (
The record shows that on February 21,
2004, at approximately 2:17 a.m., Officer Newell and Officer Arkovich, of
the St. Petersburg Police Department, conducted a traffic stop of Murray’s
vehicle after the officers heard tires squealing and then observed Murray’s
vehicle “power braking” (described
as accelerating the vehicle and hitting the brakes) in excess of four times
while stopped at an intersection, approximately ten feet behind an Acura. When the light turned green, the Acura accelerated
at a high rate of speed and drove north.
In this case, the applicable statute is Florida Statutes, § 316.1925(1), careless driving, which states,
[a]ny person operating a vehicle upon the streets or highways within the state shall drive the same in a careful and prudent manner, having regard for the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic, and all other attendant circumstances, so as not to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person. (e.a.).
as the statutes cited above, § 316.1925, is also primarily concerned with
safety, not precision. However, unlike
Accomando, there is competent substantial evidence in the record to
within ten feet of another vehicle while both vehicles were stopped. That means that he was repeatedly depressing the brake pedal and gas pedal at the same time. It is a reasonable inference that such behavior could result in loss of control of the truck and impact with the Accura. Certainly, the driver of the Accura appears to have shared these concerns since the driver accelerated at a high rate of speed. It is a reasonable inference that the Accura driver did that to avoid the apparent danger poised by the truck. The officer needed only probable cause to conduct a traffic stop for careless driving. See Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles v. Smith, 687 So.2d 30, 33 (Fla. 1st DCA 1997)(providing that probable cause exists “where the facts and circumstances, as analyzed from the officer’s knowledge, special training and practical experience, and of which he has reasonable trustworthy information, are sufficient in themselves for a reasonable man to reach the conclusion that an offense has been committed”).
Certainly, the officer had sufficient facts to establish that the truck was not being operated in “a careful and prudent manner . . . so as not to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person.”
Therefore, the Court finds that under
the totality of these facts the traffic stop was lawful. Compare with Donaldson v. State,
803 So.2d 856 (Fla. 4th DCA 2002)(finding traffic stop was unlawful when officer
only observed vehicle pull out of parking lot with tires squealing and no
other cars were endangered); see also Parsons v. State, 825
So.2d 406, 409 (Fla. 2d DCA 2002)(stating that a court should consider all
facts known to police at the time of the investigatory stop such as time,
location, suspect’s physical behavior or anything unusual the suggests criminal
activity); State v. Russell, 659 So.2d 465, 467 (Fla. 3d DCA 1995)(same).
This finding adheres to the recent Florida Supreme Court decision of
Dobrin v. Dept. of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 874 So.2d 1171
(Fla. 2004), in which the Court held that “[t]he correct test to be applied
is whether the particular officer who initiated the traffic stop had an objectively
reasonable basis for making the stop.” As
set forth above, the Court finds that the officers had an objectively reasonable
basis for conducting a traffic stop as
Therefore, it is,
ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the Petition for Writ of Certiorari is denied.
ORDERED in Chambers, at
DAVID A. DEMERS
Circuit Judge, Appellate Division
Copies furnished to:
Sean B. Kelley, Esquire
Carlos J. Raurell, Assist. General Counsel
Bureau of Administrative Reviews