This article is provided by Daytona Beach DUI lawyer Kevin J. Pitts. If you are stopped for forgetting to turn on your headlights your rights might have been violated. Each stop is fact specific so it is possible that some stops based on headlights might be valid while others could be suppressed. An old case from 1992 indicates that interfering with traffic or pedestrians might be a prerequisite to a valid headlight stop. The court decided that unless evidence was presented to indicate the presence of other traffic on the roadway or the existence of endangerment to pedestrians or property resulting from the defendant's brief travels without her headlights on the stop would be invalid. The driver pulled onto a highway in front of a business and travelled just more than ½ a short city block, apparently without interfering with any other vehicular or pedestrian traffic, and turned on her headlights as she began to turn onto another street. Considering the nature of the deputy's inquiry of the driver and the circumstances and length of the detention and his acknowledgment that the point of origin of the vehicle was in an area known for high-drug activity, it is evident the State failed to demonstrate that the deputy was acting as a reasonable officer in stopping the defendant's vehicle, absent an invalid purpose, and, therefore, that this stop was not pretextual. State v. Lagree, 595 So. 2d 1029 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1992).
In the case referred to the defendant turned her headlights on before being pulled over. That is relevant because it would alleviate any concern the officer would have about unsafe equipment. Once the officer observed the headlights on he could not justify the stop based on invalid equipment or acting as a good Samaritan. The case is old but has not received any negative treatment from other courts. The court later stated that they agree with the trial court's conclusion that pulling out of a parking lot and driving one-half of a small city block before putting headlights on is not such a circumstance that it can be assumed that a reasonable officer would make the stop, when there was no proof that the area was not well-lit, and no proof that the brief period of driving without lights on caused any danger. State v. Lagree, 595 So. 2d 1029 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1992). It appears that the ruling might have come out different if the defendant would not have turned her lights on. Case law and facts determine the validity of a DUI stop. If you are arrested in Volusia County go to Daytona Beach DUI attorney. If you are arrested in Seminole County go to Seminole County DUI attorney Kevin J. Pitts