Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense & Personal Injury Attorneys
New Florida Traffic Law Could Inhibit Drivers' Civil Rights

New Florida Traffic Law Could Inhibit Drivers' Civil Rights

On July 1, 2019, a new law went into effect that allows Florida police to pull over drivers for texting-while-driving. While it had previously been an offense drivers could be cited for only if they were pulled over for something else, it is now a "primary offense," meaning it can result in a traffic stop even if there are no other violations observed by police.

Texting-while-driving is certainly dangerous. As many applaud the reduction in traffic accidents the new law is intended to affect, there is a very real concern about the impact this law will have on the civil rights of Florida drivers. Part of the law makes it allowable to use a phone to access GPS or map apps, an explanation drivers can give to the police when their car is stopped or to the court when the ticket is set for a hearing.

So, it’s legal to use GPS and map apps behind the wheel. The problem is that anyone legally using a GPS or map app while driving can now be pulled over because police officers can’t tell exactly what a driver is doing on their phone. A driver using a GPS or map app looks the same to an officer as a driver texting.

Why the New Texting-While-Driving Law Threatens Constitutional Rights

Officers must make the stop upon simply observing a person with a phone in their hand. Once detained, the driver may be searched and arrested, which would have never happened if they were not stopped in the first place. This violates the Fourth Amendment, which forbids police from detaining individuals unless there is sufficient reason to believe they broke the law. By the time the police officer determines it was only a GPS or map app a driver was using, it may already be too late.

The law prohibiting texting-while-driving will likely be challenged in court when drivers stopped for using a phone are then arrested for a criminal offense. It is a bad law for a simple reason: it requires police officers to make traffic stops of people who simply appear to be using their phone, which may be 100% legal, depending on what they are using the phone to do.

If you or someone you care about about is arrested following any kind of traffic stop, let us analyze the case to determine if the stop was illegal. It may mean the difference between a conviction and a case dismissal.


Our Victories

  • Not Guilty, Acquitted at Trial Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon

    Outcome: Client was alleged to have used his vehicle to strike victim, and there was video of the incident which could have been interpreted to actually show the crime. The state was offering significant prison time before trial. By meticulous planning and strategic cross-examination to expose the motives and fabrications by the alleged victim, and an eyewitness in support of the alleged victim, Rudenberg & Glasser convinced a jury to acquit the client and avoid a mandatory long prison sentence.

  • Domestic Violence
    Outcome: Rudenberg & Glasser went to trial and were able to show during cross-examination that the alleged victim was the aggressor and that the client acted in self-defense. The jury returned a not guilty verdict almost immediately following trial.
  • Domestic Violence With 911 Call and Pictures
    Outcome: Rudenberg & Glasser took the case to trial after fleshing out inconsistencies in the alleged victim's account. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty and the client's unblemished record was preserved.
  • False Arrest

    Outcome: Attorney Glasser was able to show with video footage that his client did not commit the alleged offense and furthermore, the police officer who ordered his arrest was negligent in his investigation and improperly supervised.

    Read more about this story on the Sun Sentinel.

  • Probation Only Federal Conspiracy to Commit Mail & Wire Fraud

    Outcome: Through compelling sentencing memorandum and passionate oral argument, Rudenberg & Glasser were able to convince the federal court judge to sentence their client to treatment for substance abuse, and no incarceration, even though the client had a lengthy criminal history and the Government was seeking prison time.

  • Felony DUI: Client was in an Accident and Left the Scene
    Outcome: Rudenberg & Glasser filed a compelling motion to suppress evidence based on law enforcement's actions during the investigation. Rudenberg & Glasser were able to persuade the prosecutor prior to the motion to suppress hearing that the charge should be broken down from a felony to a misdemeanor and the client was offered probation instead of the previously sought prison sentence.
  • Final Injunction Hearing
    Outcome: Client desperately needed to avoid a final injunction on his record. Rudenberg & Glasser defended him at the hearing and proved that the Petitioner was not in fear for her safety. The judge dismissed the injunction.
  • First-Degree Misdemeanor: Resisting Police Officer Without Violence
    Outcome: Mr. Rudenberg presented evidence that the police officer’s version of events was not credible, and that accusations were made to justify excessive use of force by police officer. Jury returned a verdict of not guilty in less than five minutes.
  • First-Degree Misdemeanors: DUI & Possession of Cannabis
    Outcome: Mr. Rudenberg won a motion arguing the DUI checkpoint was conducted in violation of the Fourth Amendment, and the Judge entered an order suppressing all evidence. Case was dropped by the State, and client avoided a mandatory conviction for DUI, as well as mandatory fines and license suspensions.
  • $250,000 Pre-Trial Personal Injury

    Outcome: Client was injured by a malfunctioning door, requiring stitches and leaving a scar on client's knee. There were limited medical bills and no surgeries, but through extremely challenging and successful negotiations, Rudenberg & Glasser were able to secure a settlement of $250,000.

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