How NOT to assert your rights – “Florida man” edition

Thankfully I don’t really see these much. I last addressed a similar concept about 7 years ago, so let’s revisit since this one is calling out specific statutes.

And whomever made this is showing a Florida driver license, and the two noted statutes are from Florida’s books. So let’s start with those.

I am not required to sign [any citations] – §318.14(2)

Except as provided in ss. 316.1001(2), 316.0083316.173, and 316.1896, any person cited for a violation requiring a mandatory hearing listed in s. 318.19 or any other criminal traffic violation listed in chapter 316 must sign and accept a citation indicating a promise to appear. The officer may indicate on the traffic citation the time and location of the scheduled hearing and must indicate the applicable civil penalty established in s. 318.18. For all other infractions under this section, except for infractions under s. 316.1001, the officer must certify by electronic, electronic facsimile, or written signature that the citation was delivered to the person cited. This certification is prima facie evidence that the person cited was served with the citation.

So what does all of this mean? Well, as mentioned in the heading for this, the implication given in the sign is that a person receiving a citation is not required to sign it. Doesn’t matter what the citation is for. Whereas the statute clearly says otherwise.

The violations requiring a mandatory hearing, meaning you’re also required to sign the citation, include:

  • a crash involving the death or “serious bodily injury” of another person,
  • failing to stop for a school bus where required,
  • failing to properly secure a load in a vehicle or trailer, or
  • exceeding the posted speed limit by 20mph or more

And the “criminal” violations in chapter 316 of the Florida statutes would be those classified as misdemeanors and includes, among other things, reckless driving and “aggressive careless driving”.

And if you are required to sign the citation and refuse, that’s a second-degree misdemeanor under §318.14(3).

I am not required to hand you my license – §322.15

(1) Every licensee shall have his or her driver license, which must be fully legible with no portion of such license faded, altered, mutilated, or defaced, in his or her immediate possession at all times when operating a motor vehicle and shall present or submit the same upon the demand of a law enforcement officer or an authorized representative of the department. A licensee may present or submit a digital proof of driver license as provided in s. 322.032 in lieu of his or her printed driver license; however, if the law enforcement officer or authorized representative of the department is unable to immediately verify the digital proof of driver license, upon the demand of the law enforcement officer or authorized representative of the department, the licensee must present or submit his or her printed driver license.

(2) Upon the failure of any person to display a driver license as required by subsection (1), the law enforcement officer or authorized representative of the department stopping the person shall require the person to imprint his or her fingerprints upon any citation issued by the officer or authorized representative, or the officer or authorized representative shall collect the fingerprints electronically.

In subsection 1, the relevant words here are (emphasis mine) “present or submit the same upon the demand of a law enforcement officer”. This means if the officer tells you to hand over your license, you MUST hand over your license. There is no jurisdiction in the United States I’m aware of where that is not the case as laws regarding traffic stops are more-or-less universal, with some exceptions related to what may or may not constitute probable cause. And the officer will be inspecting your license and calling it in to make sure you are in lawful possession of a valid driver license card.

Thus I am not opening my window

Yes you are. Because…

I will comply with clearly stated lawful orders.

…lawful orders include commanding you to roll down your window to such an extent that the officer can see and identify you and verify that you are the person depicted on the driver license. As already mentioned, it is a lawful order for the officer to command you to hand over your driver license.

On proof of insurance, though, Florida statute doesn’t require you to actually hand over the proof of insurance, but merely display it to the officer. And most of us probably don’t carry a paper copy of our proof of insurance anymore, instead relying on an app from our insurance company. Which is how I do it, relying on the GEICO app – though there has been a time or two when even that hasn’t cooperated.

And, ultimately, a law enforcement officer always has the option to order you out of the vehicle, and they don’t need to state a reason.

Refusing to obey the commands of a law enforcement officer is a first-degree misdemeanor under §843.02. And as already stated, if you are required to sign the citation and refuse – which the above clearly indicates they may refuse – that’s a second-degree misdemeanor under §318.14(3). Both of which subject you to arrest, and the officer will use whatever force is necessary to effect that arrest. And if you resist, that only ups the charges more. And if you are arrested, your vehicle then becomes subject to a search incident to an arrest.

I’ve said before that you don’t need to be infinitely cooperative with an officer, but don’t be an asshole during the traffic stop either. And don’t have a sign like the above in your car window. It just makes you an asshole. And guarantees you’ll get a citation every time, so forget about being let off with a warning.