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How Long Can I Be Detained At A Traffic Stop?

Published on April 4, 2016

Orlando criminal defense attorney David Hill talks about how long you may be detained at a traffic stop under Florida law.

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There are scenarios where an individual gets pulled over for a simple traffic offense and that leads to them eventually having their car searched and being charged with some sort of possession of something illegal, whether it’s a drug or a firearm. So the question comes up: How long can they keep me there while they’re writing the ticket to facilitate them getting a drug dog to come search my car? The basic answer to that is they are allowed to keep you there as long as it is reasonable to issue you the ticket. So you get pulled over. You give them your license; you give them your paperwork. They go back to their car. They call in your license. They write the ticket and they bring it back to you. So how long does that take? The case law is not specific. It’s not a clearly defined rule where they say anything longer than ten minutes is too long. It is just what is a reasonable amount of time for them to issue you a ticket. But once they have either given you the ticket, or if they are taking an inordinate amount of time to prepare the ticket, and then in that interim time they bring a police dog to search your car, they have held you there too long. They cannot detain you just on a whim. They have to either have a reasonable basis to detain you or, if the reason that they pulled you over or are detaining you is to issue the ticket, once they have written the ticket, they have to let you go. They cannot write the ticket and then keep you there and have you get out of the car until the drug dog gets there and then have them search your car. That’s not legal. The evidence that they got in that case would be thrown out.

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