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  • Writer's pictureAttorney Joseph Soler

How long can the police stop and detain for a traffic law violation in Florida?

When stopping a car for a traffic violation, the police cannot detain or stop the vehicle and its occupants for as long as they want--the law says that the stop may last no longer than is necessary to address the purpose of the stop, which is to investigate the traffic infraction.

What does an investigation for a traffic infraction look like?

During a routine traffic stop, this is the length of time necessary for law enforcement to check the driver license, the vehicle registration, and the proof of insurance. The officer can also determine whether there are outstanding warrants, write any traffic citation or warning, return the documents, and issue the warning or citation.

The police must diligently pursue the traffic investigation

The authority for the officer to detain you ends when tasks tied to the traffic infraction are—or reasonably should have been—completed. The key words are “reasonably should have been completed”—the officer cannot unnecessarily delay (for instance, to wait for a K-9, or to wait for the arrival of a detective to investigate a hunch regarding the possession of drugs).

If you were arrested for Drug Possession

If you were stopped for a traffic violation and you were arrested for drug possession, it is important to determine when you were stopped and for how long. If it is found that the police officer unnecessarily delayed the traffic investigation, it could result in your charges being dismissed. Please visit the Soler & Simon Drug Possession page for more information on defenses to the possession of drugs.

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