COUNTY CRIMINAL COURT: CRIMINAL LAW Ė Search and Seizure Ė Stop-A cracked windshield that did not pose a safety hazard was sufficient reason for the police to stop the defendantís vehicle. Order granting defendantís motion to suppress/dismiss reversed. State v. Jorgensen, No. CRC 04-4 APANO, (Fla. 6th Cir.App.Ct. March 24, 2005).









††††††††††† Appellant,


v.                                                                                                                                           Appeal No. CRC 04-0004 APANO

††††† UCN522004AP000004XXXXCR



††††††††††† Appellee.




Opinion filed __________________.


Appeal from a decision of the

Pinellas County Court

Acting County Judge Robert Beach


Greg Groger, Esq.

Assistant State Attorney


Laura Gapske, Esq.

Assistant Public Defender




††††††††††† (Demers, J.)


††††††††††† THIS MATTER is before the Court on the Stateís appeal from a decision of the Pinellas County Court granting the defendantís motion to suppress and the defendantís motion to dismiss one of the charges. After reviewing the briefs and record, and considering new case law, this Court reverses the decisions.



A member of law enforcement saw that the vehicle in which the defendant was driving had a cracked windshield. The vehicle was stopped. During the investigation as to who actually owned the vehicle, the defendant was asked for his identification, which the officer reviewed and found invalid. When informed by the officer that displaying an invalid driverís license was a misdemeanor, the defendant fled the scene. He was later arrested and charged with resisting arrest without violence, possession of a suspended driverís license, and driving an unsafe vehicle. In the court below, the defendant made several motions seeking suppression of the evidence and dismissal of the charges. The trial court granted the motion to suppress and the motion to dismiss the suspended driverís license charge. It is unclear if the trial court based its decision to grant the motion to dismiss on its belief that the stop was improper, or for one of the other reasons raised by the defendant. It does, however, appear that the trial court based its decision to dismiss the charges on its belief that the stop was improper. The trial court certainly granted the motion to suppress because it believed the stop was improper.

††††††††††† The trial courtís reasoning seems to be that the crack in the windshield did not pose a safety hazard, and therefore there was no legal justification for the stop. The recent decision in the case of Hilton v. State, 30 Fla. L. Weekly D453 (Fla. 2d DCAFeb. 16, 2005), however, holds that law enforcement has the authority to stop a motor vehicle if there is a crack in the windshield even if that crack does not pose a safety hazard. This decision, decided after the trial courtís decision, is binding on this Court. Therefore, the trial courtís decision must be reversed because the stop was proper.

††††††††††† IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the order granting the defendantís motion to suppress and dismissing the case is reversed. The matter is remanded to the trial court for action consistent with this Order and Opinion. Upon remand, the defendant may raise any defense it may have to the charges that does not involve the propriety of the stop.

††††††††††† DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers at Clearwater, Pinellas County, Florida this _____ day of March, 2005.



††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ______________________

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† David A. Demers

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Circuit Judge





††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† _______________________

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††† Robert J. Morris, Jr.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Circuit Judge




††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ________________________

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Irene S. Sullivan

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Circuit Judge



cc:†† State Attorney


††††††† Public Defender


††††††† Judge Beach