Doctor v. State

Citation16 Fla. L. Weekly 183,573 So.2d 157
Decision Date16 January 1991
Docket NumberNo. 88-3358,88-3358
Parties16 Fla. L. Weekly 183 Terrtric DOCTOR, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee.
CourtCourt of Appeal of Florida (US)

Page 157

573 So.2d 157
16 Fla. L. Weekly 183
Terrtric DOCTOR, Appellant,
STATE of Florida, Appellee.
No. 88-3358.
District Court of Appeal of Florida,
Fourth District.
Jan. 16, 1991.

Page 158

Richard L. Jorandby, Public Defender, and Susan D. Cline, Asst. Public Defender, West Palm Beach, for appellant.

Robert A. Butterworth, Atty. Gen., Tallahassee, and Sylvia H. Alonso, Asst. Atty. Gen., West Palm Beach, for appellee.


Appellant seeks review of the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress.

On July 4, 1988, several hours before the dawn's early light, members of a drug interdiction team were traveling northbound on I-95 in an undercover car. They became suspicious of a large car with dark tinted windows. The car was followed and they noticed it had a broken taillight. They radioed a BOLO to their backups, a state trooper and a deputy sheriff, who were in a marked police car. The trooper and the deputy also saw the broken taillight and made a traffic stop. The driver and appellant were asked to get out of the car. The trooper saw a "very large bulge" in the appellant's groin area and thought it might be a weapon. The trooper drew his revolver and yelled to the deputy, who placed appellant against the car and asked appellant to remove whatever made the bulge. When appellant failed to respond, the deputy frisked appellant and touched the bulge, which the deputy thought felt like peanut brittle. Based on his training and experience, the deputy knew the groin area to be a common place to carry cocaine and immediately concluded the bulge was rock cocaine, not a weapon. The deputy seized the cocaine rocks and arrested appellant for trafficking and possession. Appellant pled no contest to the trafficking charge and reserved the right to appeal the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress. The State dropped the possession charge.


We affirm the trial judge's determination that the traffic stop was lawful. The officers had a founded or articulable suspicion to believe that a traffic infraction occurred in their presence. See State v. Cobbs, 411 So.2d 212 (Fla. 3d DCA 1982). They testified that they could see a white light shining from the car's left rear red taillight. The taillight was broken. See §§ 316.221 & 316.234, Fla.Stat. (1987). The officers' roles in the drug interdiction operation did not prevent them from enforcing the traffic laws, nor did it make the traffic stop a pretextual stop to conduct a drug investigation. When an officer stops a car for a minor traffic infraction of such a nature that any citizen committing it would be routinely stopped, the fact that the officer "possibly would not have stopped the

Page 159

car but for further suspicion" does not render the stop "an unlawful 'pretext' stop." State v. Kehoe, 498 So.2d 560 (Fla. 4th DCA 1986), approved, 521 So.2d 1094 (Fla.1988) (quoting Bascoy v. State, 424 So.2d 80 (Fla. 3d DCA 1982)).

We affirm the trial judge's determination that the officers' encounter with the appellant was lawful. When a police officer lawfully stops a car for a traffic infraction, his order to the driver or passenger to get out of the car is reasonable and permissible under the Fourth Amendment even though at the time of the stop the officer has no reason to suspect foul play from the particular driver or passenger. An officer's interest in protecting himself or a fellow officer against an unsuspected assault by a driver or passenger and against accidental injury from passing traffic is both legitimate and weighty and the intrusion into the driver's or passenger's personal liberty is de minimis. See Pennsylvania v. Mimms, 434 U.S. 106, 109-11, 98 S.Ct. 330, 332-33, 54 L.Ed.2d 331, 336-37 (1977).


We affirm the trial court's determination that the search and seizure was lawful. During a temporary encounter with a citizen, an officer, while engaged in an investigation, may conduct a limited protective search of that citizen for weapons, even without probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed. However, the officer, must have reason to believe, based on articulable facts, that his or another officer's safety is in danger. Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968); Graham v. State, 495 So.2d 852, 854 (Fla. 4th DCA 1986). Under the circumstances that existed at the time of the encounter, the officers' fears for their safety were warranted since each...

To continue reading

Request your trial
15 cases
  • State v. Smith
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • 26 d3 Janeiro d3 1994
    ...1273 (Table) (1993). Many jurisdictions have upheld an officer's order to a passenger to step out of the vehicle. Doctor v. State, 573 So.2d 157, 159 (Fla.Dist.Ct.App.1991), modified on other grounds, 596 So.2d 442 (Fla.1992); Warr v. State, 580 N.E.2d 265, 267 (Ind.Ct.App.1991); State v. R......
  • State v. Wilson
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • 1 d5 Setembro d5 1995
    ...868 (Mich.1992). A Florida appellate court reached the same conclusion without the benefit of any apparent analysis. Doctor v. State, 573 So.2d 157, 159 (Fla.App.1991). Several decisions from the New York Court of Appeals leave New York's position somewhat in doubt. People v. Robinson, 74 N......
  • T.P. v. State, 90-490
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 22 d4 Agosto d4 1991
    ...So.2d 657, 658 (Fla. 1st DCA 1975); 3 W.R. LaFave, Search and Seizure (2d ed 1987); Sec. 9.4(c) at 521-23. But see Terrtric Doctor v. State, 573 So.2d 157 (Fla. 4th DCA 1991). In this case, the object bulged so as to catch the officer's attention. He had adequate grounds to search for a wea......
  • Woodson v. State
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 16 d4 Maio d4 1991 conduct a weapons search if there is probable cause to believe that the person he has temporarily detained is armed. Doctor v. State, 573 So.2d 157 (Fla. 4th DCA 1991); L.D.P. v. State, 551 So.2d 1257 (Fla. 1st DCA 1989). Although there was consent for the deputy to search appellant in t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT