In the case of Vinci v. State of Florida, the Second District Court of Appeal issued an opinion addressing 2 issues, the 1st being probable cause for a traffic stop stemming from lane weaving & probable cause to arrest for possession of a scheduled controlled substance without a prescription.
Florida Statute Â§ 316.089(1) states as follows: "Whenever any roadway has been divided into two or more clearly marked lanes for traffic, the following rules, in addition to all others consistent herewith, shall apply: (1) A vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from such lane until the driver has first ascertained that such movement can be made with safety."
It is important to note that statute 316.089(1) doesn't create a strict liability offense justifying a traffic stop. In order to have probable cause to conduct a traffic stop based on lane weaving, the driver's failure to maintain a lane is required to create a safety concern or the driving pattern is required to be indicative of impairment. This typically consists of repeated lane weaving violations spanning a longer distance.
Possession of Xanax Without a Prescription
In this matter, after seeing the defendant weaving for about a mile, and believing him to be DUI, a deputy stopped him. The defendant gave him permission to search his car. The officer located 1 tablet of xanax inside a prescription bottle labeled Suboxone. The deputy believed that defendant had committed possession of a controlled substance, and eventually arrested him for having actual possession of oxycodone and alprazolam without a prescription. Counsel for the defendant filed a motion to suppress certain evidence & the circuit court held an evidentiary hearing on the motion. The trial court ruled in favor of the defendant, suppressing the evidence as it was not immediately apparent that the pill was illegal, which it is required to be in order to permit the confiscation of items that are within plain view, as a person can lawfully possess Alprazolam, as opposed to an item like cocaine. The court of appeal reversed, ruling that the officer did have probable cause to seize the evidence stating that the possession of Xanax inside of a prescription pill bottle that is not labeled as a Xanax prescription provides prima facie evidence that the possession is unlawful Although a valid prescription remains a defense, but the officer wasn't required to anticipate defenses. Further, the lower court did not err in its ruling that the officer had developed reasonable suspicion in order to make an investigatory stop to determine whether the defendant was impaired by drugs or alcohol.