Routine Florida Traffic Stop Highlights Two Controversial Vehicle Privacy Issues
One traffic stop illustrates perfectly why dark tinted vehicle glass and your license plate may get you pulled over. It all started with a police officer conducting a routine traffic stop.
"Oh, we run tags all the time." That is the response from an officer in Orlando Florida who pulled over a driver June 19th that turned out to be the Florida State Attorney, Aramis Ayala. The driver politely asked why she was pulled over and the officer said that when he "ran her tag" it "did not come back." In other words, the vehicle's license plate number did not have any record come back to his cruiser's computer when the "automatic" tag reader ran it. Police use these plate readers to see if a car is properly registered, belongs to a person with outstanding warrants, or has been reported stolen. Setting aside that in America random stops and searches are considered unconstitutional in almost every other circumstance, why did the officer pull the driver over when his information was incomplete? Why pull the driver over and then not ticket, arrest, or detain her for the offense?
Without prompting, the officer also offered that a secondary reason for the stop was that the windows of the vehicle had a dark tint. Dark tints are illegal in some states and police use an inexpensive device called a tint meter to determine if the tint is legal or not. The officer goes on to say that he does not have a tint meter. So, without a tint meter, why pull the driver over, since it could not result in a ticket? In a nutshell, this driver was pulled over because the police officer had a malfunctioning computer and a suspicion of a minor offense he was not equipped to make a judgment on.
Others see a race element to this traffic stop. We will let those with that opinion expand upon it. We're car guys and we know that aftermarket car window tinting and license plate readers are reasons that drivers are stopped on a daily basis.
The Naples Daily News reports that the State Attorney says her vehicle was properly registered. She was on her way from having taught a law class at the Florida A&M University College of Law and did nothing to warrant a stop. Ms. Ayala says she wishes to clarify many misunderstandings the stop has raised and that she has not filed a lawsuit. State Attorney Ayala said in a statement, "Since its release, the video has had more than 2 million views and produced a flood of misinformation. Although the traffic stop appears to be consistent with Florida law. My goal is to have a constructive and mutually respectful relationship between law enforcement and the community." Watch the video yourself and see if you can understand why the police stopped this driver.