On April I, 2020, the STATE OF FLORIDA OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR issued EXECUTIVE ORDER NUMBER 20-91 (Essential Services and Activities During COVID-19 Emergency)
Considering the current Executive Order directing citizens to stay at home unless engaging in essential services or activities, Citizens are asking, “If I am pulled over by Law Enforcement, what are my rights? What questions do I have to answer?”
Florida Statute 252.50 makes it a second-degree misdemeanor (punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine) to violate a State Emergency Management order.
This being said, a Traffic Stop is still a Traffic Stop and your Constitutional Rights are still intact. If you are stopped by a law enforcement officer while driving, there are some rules:
- If asked, you MUST provide the officer your Name, Driver’s License, Insurance Card and Vehicle Registration;
- You MUST exit the vehicle if asked by the Officer;
- You MUST allow the officer to perform a pat down search of your person for weapons (for officer safety)
- You DO NOT have to answer questions about where you are going and what you are doing;
- You DO NOT have to incriminate yourself regarding any alleged criminal activity (including violations of stay at home orders);
- You DO NOT have to consent to a search of your vehicle (although officers may search if they develop probable cause)
- You SHOULD be polite to the law enforcement officers;
- You SHOULD exercise your right to remain silent;
- You SHOULD remain calm and give no reason for officers to become suspicious;
- You SHOULD have documentation to show you are traveling for an essential service or activity (such as a work name tag, a grocery list, a medical appointment card, etc.). You can show the documentation without answering questions and this may save a wrongful arrest or citation.
The COVID 19 virus and government mandates are unprecedented, confusing and nerve-wracking times. If you are pulled over by law enforcement during this time Remain Calm, Remember your Constitutional Rights, and when talking- Less is More!