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Traffic Stop | How Long Can the Police Hold You?

During a West Palm Beach traffic stop you may stopped for what seems like a long time to you. The West Palm Beach Police or Sheriff’s office may require that you remain stopped for certain periods of time, but how long are the police allowed to make you stay at a traffic stop? Do you know your rights when it come to Florida traffic stops?

In the case of Wesley Foley, Jr. versus the State of Florida, Mr. Foley was the front seat passenger in a car that was stopped by a deputy sheriff for a traffic infraction. The deputy asked the driver for her license, registration, and insurance card, and the driver gave them to him. The deputy then asked the driver if he could search her car, but she said no. Not liking that answer, the deputy called for a drug-sniffing dog to be brought to where he was located. When the dog got there, he walked around the car and “alerted” at the front passenger door. Deputies then searched the car and found methamphetamine in the front passenger door panel. After that, a deputy seized ammunition that they found in a duffel bag owned by Foley that was located in the backseat. A gun that was wrapped in camouflage tape was also found by a deputy, and it was later determined that Foley’s fingerprints were on that tape.

Foley was arrested and later charged with possessing a gun and ammunition by a convicted felon as well as possessing methamphetamine. When his case went to court, Foley’s lawyer filed a motion saying that the deputies’ search of the car in which Foley was a passenger violated Foley’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from an unreasonable search and seizure. The judge hearing the motion said that Foley’s rights could not possibly have been violated because he was only a passenger in the car, and not the driver. The judge refused to even consider Foley’s motion.
Foley didn’t like that, so he appealed. The court of appeals agreed with Foley saying:
1. When a police officer makes a traffic stop, both the driver and the passengers in the car may challenge the constitutionality of the stop.

2. Even when the initial traffic stop is legal, the stop itself cannot last any longer than is reasonably necessary to issue a citation.

3. A search by a drug-sniffing dog of the outside of a car must be completed within the time it ordinarily takes to issue a traffic citation.

A West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney can consult with you regarding the legality of a traffic stop and whether or not your rights have been infringed on. Ron Chapman is an experienced criminal defense attorney and understands the laws and will defend your rights. Contact him today if you have any questions regarding traffic stops or any other law infraction!

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