How Long Can I Be Held at a Traffic Stop in Florida?
Being stopped in traffic by a police officer is one thing that will definitely ruin your day. For people who are already running late to work, a traffic stop is a highly unwelcome delay that adds insult to injury. On average, a routine traffic stop takes roughly twenty minutes from the time you are pulled over to the time a warning or citation is issued. But what if the officer on duty prolongs the encounter by questioning you or asking to search your vehicle? How long is too long to be detained?
As it turns out, there is no definitive time limit police abide by to keep you at a traffic stop. Police can detain you for as long as it takes to conduct an investigation, within reason; however, if a police officer does not have a search warrant or probable cause to search your vehicle, you have the right to say no. It is not an admission of guilt. The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution explicitly prohibits these actions by law enforcement. There is only one loophole to this law and that is the use of trained police dogs.
In Illinois v. Caballes, the court ruled that the Fourth Amendment is not violated when drug-sniffing dogs are used during a routine traffic stop, so long as the act of walking the dog around the car does not take an “unreasonably” long amount of time. This means that if the police officer who pulls you over really wants to investigate, he does not need probable cause, a warrant, or even your permission to do so; just the fact that you didn’t wait “too long” is sufficient.
If a police officer can bring a dog to the scene in the time it takes to run your tags and write you a citation, the use of the dog is deemed permissible by law. A police dog may alert the officer that it has detected the presence of narcotics at any time during the walk. At this point, the officer has probable cause to investigate further. The fact that nothing you did before the dog arrived gave the officer any grounds to suspect criminal activity is moot.
Now, if you are at a traffic stop and have already been issued a warning or traffic ticket, you are legally free to go. You can confirm that you are free to go by asking “Officer, am I free to go?” If, at this point, the officer threatens to bring out the dogs, he would be violating your Fourth Amendment rights. At no point are police officers allowed to detain you until police dogs arrive. In Rodriguez v. United States the Supreme Court ruled that police officers are not entitled to extend the length of a traffic stop past the necessary time in order to conduct a dog sniff that is unrelated to the traffic stop’s original purpose.
If you feel your Florida traffic stop rights have been violated by law enforcement during a routine traffic stop, you need the representation of a discerning criminal defense attorney who is keen on protecting your rights. Call Attorney Brian Gabriel at The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel at 561-622-5575 today.
Frequently Asked Questions About How Long You Can Be Held at a Traffic Stop
How long can a cop hold you at a Florida traffic stop?
As it turns out, there is no definitive time limit police abide by to keep you at a traffic stop. Police can detain you for as long as it takes to conduct an investigation, within reason.
How long does a traffic stop take?
On average, a routine traffic stop takes roughly twenty minutes from the time you are pulled over to the time a warning or citation is issued.
How long can a cop wait to pull you over?
A police officer may decide to pull you over for a traffic stop at any time, so long as you are within their jurisdiction. There is no time frame on any police action if an officer observes you violating a traffic law.