Blood Test Subpoena for DUI Medical Records Denied

Medical Records in DUI Prosecutions ,Blood Test Subpoenas and Medical Records

Blood Test Medical Records in DUI Prosecutions

in a blood test “burden arises from the Constitutional right to privacy in one’s medical records, which requires the State to demonstrate a compelling interest in the disclosure.”

Requests to Subpoena Medical Records of a Blood Test


After a typical crash police will sometimes attempt to assign blame. The police may suspect alcohol or drug use and attempt to obtain dui blood tests or medical records for people treated in a crash. This is true, even though the driver may have been the only person injured in a one-car crash. Nevertheless, police must jump through a lot of hoops to get your medical records. Sometimes the police jump the gun and make mistakes. If they do, a competent defense attorney can have the medical records and results of a possibly incriminating blood test thrown out by the court.

What is the process for obtaining the medical records of a driver in a crash?


The prosecutor will receive a copy of the crash report from the investigating DUI officer. If done correctly, the prosecutor will send a registered letter to the driver notifying them of the prosecutor’s efforts to obtain confidential medical records. The letter typically will give the driver a certain number of days to subject to the disclosure of the medical records. If the defendant’s lawyer files and an appropriate objection, there will be a hearing in front of a judge who will decide what if any medical records should be available to the prosecutor by subpoena. In the case we have discussed below, the judge ruled that there was not enough information for the confidential medical records of the driver to be disclosed.

Medical Records in DUI Prosecutions, Blood Test Subpoenas and Medical Records


As one commentator has noted in this case the “State failed to establish there was reasonable founded suspicion to believe defendant was driving while impaired by alcohol or controlled substances so as to overcome defendant’s right to privacy in her medical records and therefore failed to establish that medical records contained information relevant to ongoing criminal investigation.”

Complete Text of Order Denying Request for Blood Results in a DUI Case


STATE OF FLORIDA, Plaintiff, v. DEBRA COOPER, Defendant. County Court, 7th Judicial Circuit in and for Volusia County. Case No. 2017-308515MMDB. November 18, 2017. Belle B. Schumann, Judge. Counsel: Susan Bexley, Assistant State Attorney, for Plaintiff. John S. Hager, for Defendant.

ORDER DENYING STATE’S REQUEST TO SUBPOENA “MEDICAL” BLOOD

This case comes before the Court on the State’s Notice of Intent to Subpoena Medical Records of the Defendant, filed November 16, 2017, and the Defense’s Objection thereto, which was filed that same date. A hearing was held on the State’s request on January 17, 2018. Upon due consideration of the facts as proved and the applicable law, the Court hereby DENIES the State’s request to subpoena the Defendant’s medical records. The State failed to establish there was a reasonable founded suspicion to believe that the Defendant was driving while impaired by alcohol or controlled substances to overcome the Defendant’s right to privacy in her medical records, and therefore failed to establish that these records contain information relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation.

Previously, on November 6, 2017, there was a hearing on a motion to suppress in this case, and an order entered by the Court as a result of that hearing. This order, docket number 27 in this case, is incorporated herein [25 Fla. L. Weekly D1019a]. The facts found are as follows:

At the hearing, Assistant State Attorney Tara Libby established that on December 17, 2016, Joshua Wilson of the Ormond Beach Police Department responded to a “crash” within his city. No further explanation of this event was given. No description of the condition of the vehicles, no result of investigation into any driving pattern, no suggestion what may have caused the crash, not even the time of day or weather conditions were elicited by the State. The only further testimony about this “crash” established by the State was the conclusion by the officer that the Defendant was “at fault.” No explanation for this conclusory statement was provided, nor any of the facts that led the officer to this conclusion. There was no evidence that anyone was injured in this “crash” or even that there was any physical damage to any property.

When Officer Wilson spoke to the Defendant, he testified that he noticed she “spoke slowly” and was “lethargic,” again without any further elaboration. The State asked if in the accident report, he “noted alcohol was involved” and he replied, “yes.” The officer agreed with the conclusory question that he believed he had probable cause for DUI. No elucidation of the basis for this conclusion was provided.

On cross examination, the officer testified that he could not recall if he smelled alcohol on or about the Defendant, and conceded that his report did not indicate that he detected the odor of alcohol, or any other evidence of alcohol use. There was no mention of controlled substances.
In this prior order, the Court granted the Motion to Suppress, finding that,

The evidence presented by the State in this case falls woefully short of establishing probable cause to believe that the Defendant was driving while impaired by alcohol or a controlled substance to lawfully request breath, blood or urine. §316.1932, Fla. Stat. (2016). Although not at issue here, it seems unlikely that the State’s proof in this case would even rise to the level of a reasonable suspicion to require field sobriety exercises. The State’s offer of proof was completely inadequate. . . .

In this case, the State failed to establish any facts that would lead a reasonable person to conclude that Debra Cooper was driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance on the date in question. Bare conclusory assertions cannot sustain the State’s burden of proof. Had the State presented any evidence concerning the crash to establish some sort of driving pattern, more observations of the officer, or some scintilla of evidence of impairment by alcohol, the result may have been different. (emphasis added)

Now the State seeks to subpoena the Defendant’s medical records after she was taken to the hospital as a result of the crash. The only evidence presented at the Hunter hearing was the accident report. This report is not an affidavit, and it is unsworn. It also contains statements from the Defendant which all parties agree are privileged and which cannot be used to establish the State’s burden of proof.

Assuming without deciding that an unsworn accident report is acceptable proof and not hearsay, the only evidence of impairment contained in this report is again that the Defendant appeared “lethargic and spoke slowly” after the crash that sent her to the hospital. There is the fact that the crash occurred when the vehicle driven by the Defendant drifted partially into a turn lane and struck the other vehicle from behind. The State makes no argument that the driving pattern or the crash provides evidence of impairment.

Before the State can employ its investigatory subpoena power and compel disclosure of medical records without the consent of the patient, the State “…has the obligation and the burden to show the relevancy of the records requested.” Hunter v. State, 639 So. 3d 72, 74 (Fla. 5th DCA 1994); §395.3025(4), Fla. Stat. (2016). The State’s burden arises from the Constitutional right to privacy in one’s medical records, which requires the State to demonstrate a compelling interest in the disclosure. Art. 1, §23, Fla. Const. “Such [a compelling state] interest exists where there is a reasonable founded suspicion that the materials contain information relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation.” State v. Rivers, 787 So. 2d 952, 953 (Fla. 2d DCA 2001) [26 Fla. L. Weekly D1512a]. See also, State v. Rutherford, 707 So. 2d 1129, 1131 (Fla. 4th DCA 1997) [22 Fla. L. Weekly D2387b] [disapproved on other grounds in State v. Johnson, 814 So. 2d 390 (Fla. 2002) [27 Fla. L. Weekly S250a]] (“Where a right to privacy attaches, the State may vindicate an encroachment on that right…(when it) is established by a showing that the police have a reasonable founded suspicion that the protected materials contain information relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation.”)

In support of their position, the Defense relies on the case of Guardado v. State, 61 So. 3d 1210 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011) [36 Fla. L. Weekly D1087a]. They point out that “crash plus death” or “crash plus injury” does not always make the blood relevant as the State argues; that is not the law. The Defense is entirely correct. Absent some scintilla of evidence that the Defendant was impaired by alcohol or a controlled substance, the State has again fallen woefully short of its burden to demonstrate a compelling interest which exists where there is a reasonable founded suspicion that the materials contain information relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation to overcome the Defendant’s right to privacy in her medical records.

WHEREFORE, based on the argument and authority presented, the State’s Notice of Intent to Subpoena Medical Records is hereby DENIED.

* * *

Source: Online Reference: FLWSUPP 2512COOP

How to Get Arrested for Racing | Use Baseball Diamond for Track

Criminal Mischief Damage Over $1000

Criminal Mischief Damage Over $1000

Criminal Mischief Attorney

Criminal Mischief Attorney Needed


Defense Attorney and racer has been looking for opportunities in dirt track racing. Never thought of this – motorcycles were observed by officers [on baseball diamond] . . . Officers were able to stop all of the motorcycles before the riders could flee. ” So says the Tampa Tribune.
 
“There were no injuries, but both the infield and outfield were damaged and will require repairs before it can be used for play, according to the report.” 
 

If you have been charged with CRMS3000 CRIMINAL MISCHIEF $1000 OR MORE Call Me – Defense Attorney Tampa at 1-877-793-9290 and tell me your story.


 

 
Form Code: CRMS3000

 

 

 

Florida Statute: 806.13.1B3

 

 
Description: CRIMINAL MISCHIEF $1000 OR MORE


806.13 Criminal mischief; penalties; penalty for minor.


(1)(a) A person commits the offense of criminal mischief if he or she willfully and maliciously injures or damages by any means any real or personal property belonging to another, including, but not limited to, the placement of graffiti thereon or other acts of vandalism thereto.


3. If the damage is $1,000 or greater, or if there is interruption or impairment of a business operation or public communication, transportation, supply of water, gas or power, or other public service which costs $1,000 or more in labor and supplies to restore, it is a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

Immigration and Criminal Defense Consequences

Drugs and Trafficking Crimes, Criminal Conviction, Crimes of Violence, Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude, immigration, ICE, deportation, deport, aliens, Padilla v. Kentucky

Immigration, ICE, Deportation,

Immigration and Criminal Defense


Criminal Convictions, Immigration, ICE, and Deportation


Here is an outline titled “Crimigration: The Marriage of Immigration and Criminal Law.” Friend of the site and author, Terry Christian is a former Immigration Judge and is also Board Certified in Criminal Trial Law. Complete text for download is avaivaible below for Immigation Consequences of Criminal Convictions and Conduct.

In Memoriam: Aug 4, 1952 – Oct 20, 2011 (Age 59) Judge Clifton died a little more than a year after giving this now highly useful seminar and presentation. Terry Clifton Christian was born the son of a coal miner in Welch, West Virginia on August 4, 1952. One of Terry’s signature accomplishments was the honor of being appointed as a Federal Immigration Judge by the Attorney General of the United States in 2003.


Questions about the Immigration Consequences of Criminal Conduct? Call Me Toll Free 1-877-793-9290.


The topics include:

Definition of a Criminal Conviction

Criminal Conduct Incurring Immigration Consequences

A. Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude
B. Crimes of Violence
C. Drugs and Trafficking Crimes
D. Aggravated Felonies
E. Other Crimes and Criminal Conduct Proscribed in the INA

Consequences of Criminal Convictions and Criminal Behavior

A. Inadmissibility
B. Deportability

Motion to Vacate See Padilla v. Kentucky, Case No. 08-651, S.Ct., Argued October 13, 2009-Decided March 31, 2010.)

Order of Vacatur

Complete Document is a Free Download Here.

Special Thanks to guest contributor Terry Christian.

Feds Cannot Bypass Android Security Pattern Screen Lock!

 

Android, Android Security Screen, Screen Lock

Android, Android Security Screen, Screen Lock

Android Search Warrant

 


Android Security Pattern


Feds cannot Bypass Android Security Pattern Screen Lock! After too many failed attempts phone is locked. Forensic software apparently cannot read a locked Samsung Android phone. We have just posted the FBI application for the search warrant issued to Google to tell Feds how to retrieve data here: Android Phone Search Warrant

Easy to Bypass Security Screen Lock on iPhone Wired has published a “quick method to circumvent an iPhone’s passcode-protected lock screen: tap the “Emergency Call” button, then enter three pound signs, hit the green Call button and immediately press the Lock button. That simple procedure gives a snoop full access to the Phone app on the iPhone, which contains the address book, voicemail and call history.”

Thanks to Wired Story here: https://m.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/fbi-android-phone-lock/



Search Warrant For a Phone? Call Casey at 813-222-2220




Raw Video – Amazing Car Chase in Hillsborough County

Pit maneuver


“Chase terminated . . . call the Coroner.”


After an alleged rampage in our Tampa Palms neighborhood, great pursuit driving by a Tampa Police Officer,  pulled a Pit maneuver, the car skidded into a ditch, and the gunfire starts in this aerial video from the helicopter. Chase terminated, call the ambulance, and call the Coroner.


 

Crime Mapping Systems in Tampa Bay – Keeping Score

Tampa Bay Crime Mapping Systems

Crime Mapping Systems in Tampa Bay

Crime Maps

 


“check your neighborhood and see if it is safe to go outside.”


Keeping score is now possible for Police. Statistics are kept for Traffic Cameras, Government Grant Applications, and  to Justify or disprove profiling allegations. Our research has noted that the public information available from the crime mapping systems below is just the tip of the iceberg. Police agencies do not disclose statistics for some crimes while touting the numbers for others. For example, one local agency with a huge public relations nightmare for DUI enforcement, has chosen not to map DUI statistics see: Tampa https://raidsonline.com/?address=tampa,fl . Other agencies may not list certain crimes or activities for reasons unbeknownst to the public.


Florida Restoration of Civil Rights

Restoration of Civil Rights Tampa Florida Federal Court Criminal Defense Attorney / Lawyer

Florida Restoration of Civil Rights Criminal Defense Attorney / Expert Trial Lawyer


Appeals Court Reverses Voting Rights Restoration Ruling

UPDATE April 26, 2018:  St Pete Times reports, “A three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta issued a stay of a March 27 order by U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, who declared the system “fatally flawed” and unconstitutionally arbitrary.”

“The governor has broad discretion to grant and deny clemency, even when the applicable regime lacks any standards,” said the order written by Judge Stanley Marcus, a former federal judge in Miami, striking at the heart of Walker’s earlier decision.”


In a blockbuster ruling, a United States District Judge in Florida has ordered the Governor and the State of Florida to provide a meaningful path to restoration of Civil Rights. “Florida’s rate of denying voting rights is more than 300 percent higher than the other 49 states” said the St. Petersburg Times . According to one researcher,  “In Crist’s [previous governor’s] final year as governor, he oversaw the restoration of rights for 27,456 felons, according to the Brennan Center. In Scott’s first year, he restored voting rights for 52 felons. If this were the stock market, that would translate to a drop of 99.82 percent.”

 

Update April 4, 2018; The Governor has appealed the ruling in an effort to further delay.

Here is a Sample Clemency Application like the ones being delayed in Florida.

Excerpts from the Opinion of the Florida Restoration of Civil Rights Court

 

“In its prior order, this Court found the fuzzy time periods that the Board has invoked in reviewing or re-reviewing former felons’ applications unconstitutional . . . .”

 

“Florida’s current scheme inverts that important, democratic mechanism. It cannot do so anymore.”

 

“the Board “cannot . . . kick the can down the road for so long that they violate former felons’ rights to free association and free expression.”

 

“Removing any scheme for vote-restoration is the ultimate arbitrary act. Having lost their ability to re-enfranchise citizens at a snail’s pace guided by absolutely nothing, Defendants’ threats to arbitrarily and completely end the vote-restoration scheme is tantamount to picking up one’s marbles and going home.”

 

Opinion of the Florida Restoration of Civil Rights Court

 

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

NORTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA

TALLAHASSEE DIVISION

 

Case No. 4:17cv128-MW/CAS

 

 

JAMES MICHAEL HAND, et al.,

 

Plaintiffs,

 

 

RICK SCOTT, in his official

capacity as Governor of

Florida and member of the

State of Florida’s Executive

Clemency Board, et al.,

 

Defendants.

__________________________/

 

ORDER DIRECTING ENTRY OF JUDGMENT

 

This Court is not the Vote-Restoration Czar. It does not pick and choose who may receive the right to vote and who may not. Nor does it write the rules and regulations for the Executive Clemency Board. Instead, this Court possesses the well-known and unsurprising “province and duty . . . to say what the law is.” Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137, 177 (1803). And this Court possesses the unremarkable discretion to find a means for the Board to comply with the law.

 

In its Order on Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment, this Court applied longstanding precedent from the Supreme Court and the Eleventh Circuit that invalidated unfettered-discretion schemes to a novel context; namely, that of felon re-enfranchisement. See generally ECF No. 144. And, as it has done in the past, this Court invited the parties to recommend appropriate remedial action. Defendants essentially repackage the current scheme into proposed remedies permitting the Governor and Board to do, as the Governor described, “whatever we want” in denying voting rights to hundreds of thousands of their constituents. ECF No. 144, at 2 (citation omitted). This will not do. And Defendants’ proposed remedy to abandon the whole vote-restoration scheme does not pass constitutional muster.

 

If binding precedent spanning decades is to guide this Court—as it must—then an injunction must ensue to prevent further infringement. Florida’s vote-restoration scheme can no longer violate Plaintiffs’ fundamental First Amendment rights. Accordingly, as even Defendants acknowledge, “this Court may direct the Board ‘to find a means of bringing the [State’s] scheme into compliance with federal law.’” ECF No. 149, at 14 (quoting Strahan v. Coxe, 127 F.3d 155, 170 (1st Cir. 1997)).

 

I

 

Plaintiffs would have this Court restore the right to vote to any former felon who has completed her whole sentence and a uniformly imposed five- or seven-year waiting period. ECF No. 147, at 2–3. But such relief is beyond the scope of this Court’s authority. The people of Florida—either through ballot initiatives or through their legislative acts—may cure any perceived policy weaknesses with Florida’s restoration scheme.

 

1 A state constitutional amendment proposing changes to Florida’s felony disenfranchisement and re-enfranchisement process will appear on the ballot in November 2018.

 

2 “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.” ROCKY BALBOA (Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer, et al. 2006). The same goes for Florida’s current vote-restoration scheme. See generally ECF No. 144.

 

II

 

While Defendants oppose any relief and claim the current scheme is all sunshine and rainbows, they agree with Plaintiffs that this Court may provide declaratory relief.2 See, e.g., ECF No. 157, Ex. A (outlining Plaintiffs’ proposed declaratory relief), and ECF No. 158, at 15 (“Here, a declaratory judgment would provide an adequate remedy for the specific concerns identified by the Court.”). And this Court grants declaratory relief consistent with its prior order.

 

III

 

The parties disagree on the propriety and extent of injunctive relief, which is the primary purpose of this Order. This Court finds injunctive relief is appropriate to ensure that Florida’s vote-restoration scheme is no longer based on unfettered discretion.

 

 

A

 

To succeed on a permanent injunction, Plaintiffs “must satisfy a four-factor test.” Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms, 561 U.S. 139, 156 (2010) (internal quotation marks omitted). Plaintiffs must show (1) “irreparable injury”; (2) that “remedies available at law, such as monetary damages, are inadequate to compensate for that injury”; (3) that, “considering the balance of hardships between the plaintiff[s] and defendant[s], a remedy in equity is warranted”; and (4) that the “public interest would not be disserved by a permanent injunction.” Id. at 156–57 (internal quotation marks omitted).

 

Plaintiffs have satisfied the elements for a permanent injunction. First, Plaintiffs have suffered an irreparable injury.3 Their right to free association and right to free expression were denied under a fatally flawed scheme of unfettered discretion that was contaminated by the risk of viewpoint discrimination. The Board will revisit some of their decisions at some unknown future date—if at all—based on nebulous criteria, such as the Governor’s comfort level. See, e.g., ECF No. 102, at 41. “[I]n the unique context of first amendment challenges upon the facial validity of licensing statutes, it is the very existence of official discretion that gives rise to a threat of injury sufficient to warrant an injunction.” Miami Herald Publ’g Co. v. City of Hallandale, 734

 

One exception is Plaintiff Yraida Leonides Guanipa, who is not yet eligible for restoration. ECF No. 102, at 11–12. On Plaintiffs’ facial challenge, however, the absence of Ms. Guanipa does not impact the contours of this Court’s remedy or, for that matter, this Court’s Order. F.2d 666, 674 n.4 (11th Cir. 1984). Plaintiffs, then, have established “an imminent likelihood” that their First Amendment rights to free association and free expression “will be chilled or prevented altogether.” Siegel v. LePore, 234 F.3d 1163, 1178 (11th Cir. 2000); see also Elrod v. Burns, 427 U.S. 347, 373 (1976) (“The loss of First Amendment freedoms, for even minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury.”).

 

Second, because Plaintiffs suffered an irreparable harm, remedies at law are inadequate. See Barrett v. Walker Cty. Sch. Dist., 872 F.3d 1209, 1229 (11th Cir. 2017) (citing Deerfield Med. Ctr. v. City of Deerfield Beach, 661 F.2d 328, 338 (5th Cir. Unit B Nov. 1981) (“An injury is ‘irreparable’ only if it cannot be undone through monetary remedies.”)).

 

Decisions rendered by Unit B of the former Fifth Circuit constitute binding precedent in the Eleventh Circuit. Stein v. Reynolds Secs., Inc., 667 F.2d 33, 34 (11th Cir. 1982).

 

Third, the balance of the hardships favors Plaintiffs. Defendants need only redraft rules that align the vote-restoration scheme within the boundaries of the law by cabining official discretion and providing meaningful time constraints for the Board’s decision-making. Plaintiffs, meanwhile, are deprived of a voice in directly choosing their elected leaders. They are also deprived of associating with the political party, if any, of their choice. Both are essential First Amendment rights, as this Court described in its prior order. ECF No. 144, at 9–17. Balancing the hardships between protecting First

Amendment rights and having a government board that meets four times a year redraft their rules to conform with the United States Constitution weighs unsurprisingly in favor of the former.

 

Finally, Plaintiffs easily satisfy the fourth factor. “[T]he public interest is always served in promoting First Amendment values.” Suntrust Bank v. Houghton Mifflin Co., 268 F.3d 1257, 1276 (11th Cir. 2001). There are few greater interests than free association and free expression to choose public officials to lead, to represent all people in their jurisdictions, and to advance policy for the common good. These interests are why Americans launched a revolution against perceived unfettered discretion in the hands of one high-ranking official, King George III.

 

B

 

The question turns to the nature and extent of a permanent injunction. “Injunctive relief against a state agency or official must be no broader than necessary to remedy the constitutional violation.”

Knop v. Johnson, 977 F.2d 996, 1008 (6th Cir. 1992) (quoting Toussaint v. McCarthy, 801 F.2d 1080, 1086 (9th Cir. 1986)). This Court does not re-enfranchise otherwise eligible citizens. This Court does not operate as a legislature. This Court is not a fifth member of the Board, drafting specific rules and regulations for it, unless it is forced to do so.

 

5 This Court recognizes that in other contexts, as Plaintiffs point out, courts have actively participated in crafting specific remedies. See ECF No. 157, at 3–7 (listing redistricting, voting-rights, and school-desegregation cases in which courts have crafted specific remedies when a legislature or other government body abandons its court-ordered duties).

 

6 Plaintiffs challenge an executive clemency scheme that, by rule, has “unfettered discretion” to deny or grant critical First Amendment rights. Fla. R. Exec. Clemency 4. But, as this Court emphasized in its prior order, a scheme’s placement under an executive-clemency structure does not exempt it from constitutional compliance. ECF No. 144, at 25–27 (discussing the limitations of executive clemency in relation to federal constitutional protections); see also Hoffa v. Saxbe, 378 F. Supp. 1221, 1231 (D.D.C. 1974) (“And the [pardon] power is most importantly limited, as are all powers conferred by the Constitution, by the Bill of Rights which expressly reserved to the ‘individual’ certain fundamental rights.”); see also id. at 1233 (observing that the President’s pardon power “does not exist in a vacuum but rather as part of our total constitutional system”).

 

While this Court again recognizes the novelty of Plaintiffs’ claims, this Court’s permanent injunction does not surface out of some swamp. Federal courts have regularly held—including other circuits and the Supreme Court—that cabining state officials’ discretion so they may not violate First Amendment rights is an appropriate task for federal courts.  See, e.g. City of Lakewood v. Plain Dealer Publ’g Co., 486 U.S. 750, 757 (1988) (listing a “long line of precedent” outlining the Supreme Court’s discomfort with government officials’ unfettered discretion over First Amendment rights); Forsyth Cty. v. Nationalist Movement, 505 U.S. 123, 133 (1992) (“The First Amendment prohibits the vesting of such unbridled discretion in a government official.”); Gannett Satellite Info. Network, Inc. v. Berger, 894 F.2d 61, 69 (3d Cir. 1990) (invalidating scheme that “failed to establish any parameters for the exercise of its authority to regulate a broad category of speech”). The incongruence of officials’ unfettered discretion with the First Amendment extends to executive-clemency schemes implicating constitutional rights.

 

The Eleventh Circuit has previously addressed other unconstitutional unfettered-discretion schemes, which guides this Court on the scope and nature of appropriate injunctive relief. In Sentinel Communications Co. v. Watts, the Eleventh Circuit struck down a scheme that gave a Florida official “standardless, unfettered discretion” in distributing newspaper racks at interstate rest areas. 936 F.2d 1189, 1197 (11th Cir. 1991). “Unaided (or unhindered) by any regulations, guidelines, procedures, ordinances, or standards,” the government official had “no grounds for granting or denying permits” and was “free to make his decisions on any basis that he deem[ed] appropriate.” Id. at 1198. Newspapers seeking to exercise their First Amendment rights were “subject to the completely standardless and unfettered discretion of one bureaucrat working . . . in Tallahassee.” Id. at 1199. To remedy that official’s infinite discretion, the court called for “[s]ome neutral criteria” that would “insure” that the government official’s decision “is not based on the content or viewpoint of the speech being considered.” Id. at 1199–1200 (quoting Lakewood, 486 U.S. at 760).

 

Similarly, the Eleventh Circuit determined en banc that an Atlanta government agency’s unfettered discretion over granting or denying permits for newsrack distribution at Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport violated the First Amendment. Atlanta Journal & Constitution v. City of Atlanta, 322 F.3d 1298, 1310–11 (11th Cir. 2003) (en banc). Particularly concerning was the risk that the government official would engage in impermissible viewpoint discrimination under the guise of a neutral business-related reason—a sort of “mask for censorship.” Id. at 1311 n.13. To rectify that risk, “[s]tructural and procedural safeguards can reduce the possibility that an official will use her power to corrupt the protections of the First Amendment.” Id. at 1311. Therefore, the government official “must be constrained in some form in her exercise of discretion” by “clear standards.” Id.; see also id. at 1312 (holding that official discretion “must be restrained through procedures or instructions designed to reduce or eliminate the possibility of viewpoint discrimination”).

 

So too here. There is no doubt a risk that the Board’s officials may engage in viewpoint discrimination through seemingly neutral rationales—such as traffic citations or an applicant’s perceived lack of remorse—that serve as impermissible “mask[s] for censorship.”  Id. at 1311 n.13. This sort of unfettered discretion cannot exist under the Federal Constitution—or any well-functioning democracy. Therefore, the Board must promulgate specific standards and neutral criteria to direct its decision-making. Sentinel Commc’ns, 936 F.2d at 1199 n.9 (“[T]he doctrine forbidding unbridled discretion requires reasonable and definite standards.”); see also id. at 1207 (explaining that Florida “simply cannot continue to take an utterly discretionary, ‘seat of the pants’ regulatory approach towards” First Amendment activity and that written guidelines with “specific criteria” should guide government discretion).

 

These standards and criteria cannot be merely advisory, a Potemkin village for anyone closely reviewing the scheme. See ECF No. 144, at 4–5 (outlining the existing non-binding criteria the Board may or may not consider). “Implicit limits on a licensing official’s discretion must be made explicit, ‘by textual incorporation, binding judicial or administrative construction, or well-established practice.’” Sentinel Commc’ns, 936 F.2d at 1199 n.9 (quoting Lakewood, 486 U.S. at 770). In other words, the Board cannot rely on whims, passing emotions, or perceptions. Establishing safeguards against viewpoint discrimination should be the Board’s paramount goal following this Order. In the future, concrete criteria—not “feel[ing] comfortable,” ECF No. 144, at 30—must direct the Board. And its rules must spell these criteria out with precision. See Atlanta Journal, 322 F.3d at 1312 (retaining portion of district court’s permanent injunction “that prohibited the administration of any plan that did not explicitly constrain official discretion”).

 

Defendants balk at injunctive relief partly because of a “presumption of regularity.” ECF No. 149, at 8–9. This argument boils down to “trust us—we got this.” But “this is the very presumption that the doctrine forbidding unbridled discretion disallows.” Lakewood, 486 U.S. at 770. The Eleventh Circuit is again instructive. “[I]t is not enough to presume that officials will act in good faith and adhere to standards absent from a statute or scheme’s face.” Sentinel Commc’ns, 936 F.2d at 1199 n.9. While Defendants invoke the presumption of regularity to avoid a permanent injunction, such a remedy is necessary to cabin Defendants’ unfettered discretion—and the broad discretion they claim to have in crafting a remedy. And, as noted before, Defendants concede this point. “[T]his Court may direct the Board ‘to find a means of bringing the [State’s] scheme into compliance with federal law.’” ECF No. 149, at 14 (quoting Strahan, 127 F.3d at 170).

 

Generally, when a court strikes down unconstitutional grants of unfettered government discretion, it does so because “the problem is not potential abuses but the very existence of broad, censorial power.” Int’l Soc’y for Krishna Consciousness v. Eaves, 601 F.2d 809, 823 (5th Cir. 1979).7 Here, there is little doubt that the Board possesses broad, censorial power to prohibit hundreds of thousands of otherwise eligible voters from freely associating with  7 In Bonner v. City of Prichard, 661 F.2d 1206, 1209 (11th Cir. 1981) (en banc), the Eleventh Circuit adopted as binding precedent all decisions of the former Fifth Circuit handed down prior to October 1, 1981. political parties or freely expressing themselves through voting. And there are problems of potential abuse—especially when members of the Board, who are elected on a statewide basis and who may be running for re-election or another office, have a personal stake in shaping the electorate to their perceived benefit. “Speech is an essential mechanism of democracy, for it is the means to hold officials accountable to the people.” Citizens United v. Fed. Election Comm’n, 558 U.S. 310, 339 (2010). Florida’s current scheme inverts that important, democratic mechanism. It cannot do so anymore.

 

In short, the Board is left to the “task of devising a Constitutionally sound program,” Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 362 (1996) (internal quotation marks omitted), but it must do so within constraints that the Eleventh Circuit has identified; namely, specific, neutral criteria that excise the risk—and, of course, the actual practice of—any impermissible discrimination, such as race, gender, religion, or viewpoint. While this Court does not order any particular vote-restoration scheme nor any specific criteria the Board must consider, Florida’s corrected scheme cannot be byzantine or burdensome.

 

C

 

The Board’s new criteria would be toothless without meaningful time constraints. In its prior order, this Court found the fuzzy time periods that the Board has invoked in reviewing or re-reviewing former felons’ applications unconstitutional. ECF No. 144, at 27–31. Like this Court’s conclusions about the Board’s lack of criteria to cabin its decision-making, this Court’s conclusions over the absence of meaningful time constraints do not arrive out of thin air. The Supreme Court and the Eleventh Circuit have repeatedly struck down schemes that lack meaningful time constraints as contrary to the First Amendment.  See, e.g., id. at 28–29 (citing Supreme Court precedent),

and id. At 29 n.16 (citing Eleventh Circuit precedent).

 

Binding precedent again instructs the scope and nature of remedies. Recently, the Eleventh Circuit upheld a district court’s permanent injunction over a school board’s policy that essentially failed to constrain a high-ranking official from granting or denying speaking slots to individuals at school-board meetings. Barrett, 872 F.3d at 1229. “[U]nbridled discretion can . . . exist when a permitting official has no time limit within which she must make a decision on a permit application.” Id. at 1222. The challenged policy “pose[d] enough of a risk that speech w[ould] be chilled or effectively censored on the basis of content or viewpoint” because one portion of the policy “lack[ed] any time limit with which [the government official] must comply.” Id. at 1229.

 

The same risks exist here. As this Court emphasized in its prior order, the Board “cannot . . . kick the can down the road for so long that they violate former felons’ rights to free association and free expression.” ECF No. 144, at 29. It is no excuse that the Board lacks resources to abide by the Federal Constitution’s requirements. If the Board pursues policies that sever hundreds of thousands of Floridians from the franchise and, at the appropriate time, hundreds of thousands of Floridians want their voting rights back, the Board must shoulder the burden of its policies’ consequences. They cannot continue to shrug off restoration applications indefinitely.

 

Accordingly, the Board must promulgate time constraints that are meaningful, specific, and expeditious. While this Court leaves the specifics of timing to Defendants to outline and justify, the time limits cannot cloak impermissible clock-control. See Barrett, 872 F.3d at 1214 (“Control the clock and control the game.”). Absent extraordinary circumstances, this Court cannot conceive of any reason why an applicant at any point must wait more than one election cycle after she becomes eligible to apply for restoration.

 

D

 

Defendants cannot end the vote-restoration scheme entirely. See  ECF No. 149, at 11 (suggesting the Board could adopt a policy “declining to restore any convicted felon’s ability to vote, either permanently or as an interim measure . . .”). This Court concluded that Florida’s arbitrary slow drip of vote-restorations violates the U.S. Constitution—but that does not mean Defendants can shut off the spigot of voting rights with a wrench, yank it from the plumbing, and throw the whole apparatus into the Gulf of Mexico. In its prior order, this Court reasoned that a state cannot re-enfranchise its citizens arbitrarily because it cannot disenfranchise citizens arbitrarily. See ECF No. 144, at 6–7 (citing Shepherd v. Trevino, 575 F.2d 1110, 1114 (5th Cir. 1978), and Owens v. Barnes, 711 F.2d 25, 27 (3dCir.1983)); see also id. at 7 n.4 (citing Williams v. Taylor, 677 F.2d 510 (5th Cir. 1982)).

 

Removing any scheme for vote-restoration is the ultimate arbitrary act. Having lost their ability to re-enfranchise citizens at a snail’s pace guided by absolutely nothing, Defendants’ threats to arbitrarily and completely end the vote-restoration scheme is tantamount to picking up one’s marbles and going home.

 

It is true that “Florida’s discretion to deny the vote to convicted felons is fixed by the text” of Section Two of the Fourteenth Amendment. Johnson v. Bush, 405 F.3d 1214, 1228 (11th Cir. 2005) (emphasis added). States have “a realm of discretion in the . . . reenfranchisement of felons which the states do not possess with respect to limiting the franchise of other citizens.” Shepherd, 575 F.2d at 1114 (emphasis added). In exercising that discretion, Florida pursues an interest “in limiting the franchise to responsible voters.” Id. at 1115.

 

In so limiting the franchise, Florida has the ability under existing case law to exercise some—but not unlimited—discretion in re-enfranchisement of former felons.

Id. at 1114.

 

Florida exercises this discretion by defining what a felony is. It culls from the body politic hundreds of thousands of men and women who have been convicted of those felonies. And it strips voting rights from individuals serving their sentences, their probations, their paroles, and

from those men and women patiently waiting the duration of a uniform five- or seven-year period.

But, as this Court previously stated, “no realm is without boundary.” ECF No. 144, at 35. That conclusion unremarkably presupposed the existence of a realm for the state to exercise discretion. Removing all discretion by jettisoning the vote-restoration scheme in its entirety is easily outside the “realm of discretion” because such a plan tosses out the “realm.” In short, Shepherd presumes the existence of a realm for state officials to exercise limited discretion that the absence of a vote-restoration scheme would contravene. Once Florida provides for a realm of discretion through a vote-restoration scheme, it cannot simply discard that scheme after a federal court finds constitutional violations with its current rules.

 

Moreover, the Supreme Court’s “prior decisions have voiced particular concern with laws that foreclose an entire medium of expression.”

City of Ladue v. Gilleo

, 512 U.S. 43, 55 (1994);

see also id.

(listing Supreme Court precedent invalidating total bans on First Amendment activity). For example, a Ladue, Missouri ordinance that was a “virtually complete ban” on all residential signs “almost completely foreclosed a venerable means of communication.”

Id.

at 49, 54. The Court observed that bans on whole swaths of First Amendment rights “may be completely free of content or viewpoint discrimination” but “the danger [such prohibitions] pose to the freedom of speech is readily apparent—by

eliminating a common means of speaking, such measures can suppress too much speech.”

Id.

at 55. Similarly, the Supreme Court narrowly construed a municipality’s law prohibiting some picketing but acknowledged that problems would arise if the law banned

all

picketing.

Frisby v. Schultz

, 487 U.S. 474, 486 (1988) (“The type of focused picketing prohibited by the [municipality’s] ordinance is fundamentally different from more generally directed means of communication that may not be completely banned in residential areas.”).

Analogous concerns would arise if the Board abandoned its vote-restoration scheme entirely. Once a federal court acknowledges former felons’ First Amendment rights to association and expression upon which a restoration scheme of unfettered discretion unconstitutionally infringes, the Board cannot issue a blanket ban on all activity without some pathway out of the prohibition. And while a “particularly punitive state might even disenfranchise convicted felons permanently[,] . . . once a state provides for restoration, its process cannot offend the Constitution.” ECF No. 144, at 9.8 Shutting off the slow drip of vote-restorations in this context would offend the Constitution.

8 Under the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Section Two, states have an “affirmative sanction” in disenfranchising men and women convicted of felonies. Richardson v. Ramirez, 418 U.S. 24, 54 (1974). This Court is troubled by some courts’ “fetishistic” reading of this precedent that strips the constitutional authorization of its context and relies solely on a textual reading. See Jessie Allen, Documentary Disenfranchisement, 86 TUL. L. REV. 389, 448–59 (2011).

That Florida cannot jettison its whole vote-restoration scheme is also supported as a matter of state law—though, of course, in so analyzing this Court treads carefully through longstanding principles of federalism. See Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 106 (1984) (“[I]t is difficult to think of a greater intrusion on state sovereignty than when a federal court instructs state officials on how to conform their conduct to state law.”).

Defendants should heed the existence of a restoration process enshrined in Florida’s constitution and in state laws. “No person convicted of a felony . . . shall be qualified to vote or hold office until restoration of civil rights.” FLA. CONST. art. VI, § 4(a) (emphasis added). “[T]he civil rights of the person convicted shall be suspended in Florida until such rights are restored . . .” FLA. STAT. ANN. § 944.292(1) (emphasis added). Defendants acknowledge as much. ECF No. 149, at 7 (“[A] convicted felon loses the right to vote until civil rights are restored.”) (emphasis added). They helpfully point out that Florida has coupled disenfranchisement with a form of vote-restoration for the past 150 years. Id. at 18 (explaining how the 1868, 1885, and 1968 state constitutions contained restoration language).

References in Florida’s constitution and state laws to restoration are not window dressing. It is a “cardinal rule of statutory interpretation that no provision should be construed to be entirely redundant.”

Kungys v. United States

, 485 U.S. 759, 778 (1988) (Scalia, J.) (plurality opinion);

see also

Vreeland v. Ferrer

, 71 So. 3d 70, 80 (Fla. 2011) (“[I]t is the duty of a court ‘to give effect, if possible, to every clause and word of a statute.’”) (quoting

United States v. Menasche

, 348 U.S. 528, 538–39 (1955)). It is clear, then, that Florida law assumes a vote-restoration scheme, at minimum, exists.

This Court does not enter an injunction pursuant to Florida law. Pennhurst, 465 U.S. at 106 (forbidding federal courts from ordering state officials to comply with state law). “Under Pennhurst . . . the determinative question is not the relief ordered, but whether the relief was ordered pursuant to state or federal law.” Brown v. Ga. Dep’t of Revenue, 881 F.2d 1018, 1023 (11th Cir. 1989). A federal court can, however, consider a “state law issue that is preliminary to a federal claim against a state official.” Fleet Bank, Nat’l Ass’n v. Burke, 160 F.3d 883, 891 n.6 (2d Cir. 1998).

This Court reads the cited provisions of the Florida Constitution and state law as preliminary to

Shepherd

’s direction that states have a “realm of discretion” in re-enfranchising their citizens.

Shepherd

, 575 F.2d at 1114. In other words, the cited provisions codify the constitutional requirements that appellate courts have identified; namely, the existence of a state’s realm of discretion in re-enfranchisement.

Johnson v. Bush

, 405 F.3d at 1228;

Shepherd

, 575 F.2d at 1114. Abandoning that discretion by ceasing all vote-

restoration runs afoul of these cases.

restoration runs afoul of these cases.

restoration runs afoul of these cases.

9 This is not to say that a scheme of automatic re-enfranchisement for certain classes of convicted felons would run afoul of Shepherd’s grant of a “realm of discretion” to the state. Shepherd, 575 F.2d at 1114. It would be the state, after all, that would choose to grant the right to vote to some former felons but not all. Discretion would remain in such a scheme.

IV

 

These remedies are prophylactic. They construct guardrails so state officials’ discretion remains on the road of constitutionality. This Court recognizes that “pardon and commutation decisions have not traditionally been the business of courts; as such, they are rarely, if ever, appropriate subjects for judicial review.” Connecticut Bd. of Pardons v. Dumschat, 452 U.S. 458, 464 (1981) (emphasis added). At the same time, clear standards “provide the guideposts that check” the government official granting or denying First Amendment rights and prevent “post hoc rationalizations” clouded by “shifting or illegitimate criteria.” Lakewood, 486 U.S. at 758. Simply put, the Board must create some preventative rules, criteria, and standards without any “shifting or illegitimate criteria.” Id. Since clemency decisions are “rarely, if ever, appropriate subjects for judicial review,” Dumschat, 452 U.S. at 464, prophylactic protections must be robust and meaningful.

 

 

IT IS ORDERED:

 

 

  1. For the reasons set forth in its prior order, ECF No. 144, dated February 1, 2018, and this Order, the Clerk shall enter judgment stating:

 

  1. “FLA. CONST. art. VI, § 4(a), FLA. CONST. art. IV § 8, FLA. STAT. § 97.041(2)(b), FLA. STAT. § 944.292(1), and the Florida Rules of Executive Clemency, violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution to the extent these provisions provide the Executive Clemency Board unfettered discretion to grant or deny restoration of voting rights to persons with felony convictions, and violate the First Amendment to the extent these provisions lack any time constraints for processing and making final decisions. This DECLARATORY JUDGMENT applies only to the right to vote, not to any other civil right. It does not apply to any other type of executive clemency in Florida.”

 

 

 

  1. “Defendants are PERMANENTLY ENJOINED from enforcing the current unconstitutional vote-restoration scheme. Defendants are also PERMANENTLY ENJOINED from ending all vote-restoration processes. On or before April 26, 2018, Defendants shall promulgate specific and neutral criteria to direct vote-restoration decisions in accordance with this Order. On or before April 26, 2018, Defendants shall also promulgate meaningful, specific, and expeditious time constraints in accordance with this Order. Defendants shall file with this Court its modified rules on or before April 26, 2018.”

 

 

 

  1. Nothing in this Order Directing Entry of Judgment granting declaratory and injunctive relief against Defendants shall be construed to preclude or limit future modification or elimination of the pre-restoration waiting period(s) by any lawful means, such as constitutional amendment, legislation, or Board rulemaking.
  2. The Board shall reconsider any applicants who were denied a meaningful hearing during the pendency of this Order’s writing, i.e., between February 1, 2018 and today, under its new rules.
  3. This Court shall retain jurisdiction to monitor Defendants’ compliance and to entertain any motion for attorneys’ fees and costs.

SO ORDERED on March 27, 2018.

 

s/Mark E. Walker  ____

United States District Judge

 

What happens if you are confused and refused a DUI Breathalyzer test in Florida? Refuse Breath Test

Refuse Breath Test | Confused and Refused – Confusion Doctrine

 

Confusion DUI Refusal Refuse Breath Test

Confused about refusing a Breath test? Refuse Breath Test

Drivers can seek to have an alleged refusal to take a breath test thrown out of court using the  “confusion doctrine,” when the implied consent warnings are given following the administration of the Miranda warnings. If successful, the refusal of a breath test was not willful and is inadmissible. Under Florida law, the driver to make his or her confusion known to law enforcement. Florida law “does not require law enforcement officers to advise DUI arrestees that the Miranda warnings do not apply to the breath test, and a licensed driver in Florida has consented to the test and is not entitled to consult with an attorney prior to the administration of the test.”

 

What happens if you are confused and refused a DUI Breathalyzer test in Florida?

 

“The “confusion doctrine” is a judicially created exclusionary rule that operates to exclude a licensee’s refusal to submit to a breath test if the licensee believed that he had the right to consult with counsel prior to taking the test. See Kurecka v. State67 So. 3d 1052, 1056-57 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010) [35 Fla. L. Weekly D2162b]. Under this doctrine, “a licensee’s refusal to submit to [a] breath test will be excused if, due to a prior administration of the Miranda warnings, the licensee believes that he or she had the right to consult with counsel prior to taking a breath test.” Id. at 1056 (internal citations omitted).”

Miranda Warnings Do Not Apply to the Breath Test in Florida

 

“In Kurecka, the Fourth District Court of Appeal analyzed the history of the “confusion doctrine” in Florida and other states. Id. at 1057-60. That Court concluded that Florida’s implied consent statute does not require law enforcement officers to advise DUI arrestees that the Miranda warnings do not apply to the breath test, and a licensed driver in Florida has consented to the test and is not entitled to consult with an attorney prior to the administration of the test. Id. at 1060-61. “Accordingly, excluding evidence based on a suspect’s misconception about the right to counsel prior to taking the breath test would be contrary to the legislative intent of Florida’s implied consent law.” Id. at 1060.”


Video: Refusal to Take a Breath Test at Hillsborough County Jail in Florida

 

DUI Video from inside a jail where a cop is administering Florida’s Implied Consent warning given prior to requesting a suspect to take a breath test on an Intoxilyzer breath machine.


 

“The Fifth District Court of Appeal declined to apply the “confusion doctrine” on facts somewhat similar to the instant case. In Dep’t of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles v. Marshall848 So. 2d 482, 485-86 (Fla. 5th DCA 2003) [28 Fla. L. Weekly D1553b], the DHSMV hearing officer presiding over the formal review hearing of the license suspension rejected Ms. Marshall’s self-serving testimony regarding her confusion about her right to counsel. Id. Further, none of the DHSMV documents supported Ms. Marshall’s claims, and she failed to subpoena law enforcement officers who could corroborate her testimony that she was told she could consult with an attorney prior to the breath test. Id.”

“The Seventh Judicial Circuit has once addressed the “confusion doctrine,” in a case where the an officer explained to the petitioner that he did not have the right to an attorney and that any answer other than “yes” to the breath test would be a refusal. Bosch v. Dep’t of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles10 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 757a (Fla. 7th Cir. Ct. 2003). The Court found that Mr. Bosch’s reliance on the “confusion doctrine” was misplaced because the Miranda warnings were given after the implied consent notice, and Mr. Bosch must have made his confusion known to the law enforcement officer in order to invoke the doctrine. Id. See also Moore v. Dep’t of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles13 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 932a (Fla. 9th Cir. Ct. 2006).”

Refuse Breath Test

 

“The Court finds that the hearing officer’s decision to reject the application of the “confusion doctrine” was based upon competent substantial evidence. Petitioner did not make his confusion known to Officer Jacobs, and the Miranda warnings were not given contemporaneously to the implied consent warnings. Other than his own testimony, there is no evidence to support Petitioner’s assertion that he was confused over his right to remain silent and the officer’s request for Petitioner to take the breath test. As the trier of fact, the hearing officer is in the best position to evaluate the evidence and the witnesses. See Dep’t of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles v. Satter, 643 So.2d 692, 695 (Fla. 5th DCA 1994). The hearing officer is not required to believe the testimony of any witness, even if unrebutted. See Dep’t of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles v. Dean662 So.2d 371, 372 (Fla. 5th DCA 1995) [20 Fla. L. Weekly D2179c]. Importantly, the hearing officer did not find that the “confusion doctrine” did not exist under Florida law; rather, he rejected the defense because Petitioner’s “testimony was not persuasive.” App. M at 5. This Court, therefore, rejects Petitioner’s reliance on the “confusion doctrine”.”

Sources: 24 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 412a Online Reference: FLWSUPP 2406CRAW ; 13 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 932a

 

What happens when a driver changes his or her mind and decides to take a breath test after initially refusing to take one?

 

Refusal Breath Test

Refusal Breath Test

Sometimes a driver may change their decision to take a breath test or chemical test to determine the content of their breath or blood. This refusal decision is important both in the administrative suspension of a Florida Driver’s license at the Bureau of administrative Reviews and in the criminal case prosecuted by the local State Attorney’s office in court. In driving under influence cases, the evidence of defendant’s refusal to submit to breath test is sometimes admissible. It certainly is admissible where the State seeks to administratively suspend the driver’s license for failure to comply with the implied consent law. How do you let the court know there is a problem with the police procedure? A motion in limine can be filed with the court.

 

What is a Pretrial Motion in Limine?

 

A pretrial motion can be filed to attack the use of statements of actions of the driver in the prosecution of a crime. This action results in a hearing in front of a judge and not a jury. If the motion is successful, the jury will never know about the alleged refusal. prosecutors use the argument that the reason for the refusal by the suspect was that they driver knew they would have failed the breath test by blowing over a .08.

What happens when a driver changes his or her mind about refusal to take a breath test?

 

The driver’s refusal is not admissible, if they timely retract their refusal. The court found, “There was no material inconvenience to the police, for two Intoxilyzers and two Intoxilyzer operators were available. [the Florida Highway Patrol officer]  actually ran his Intoxilyzer, after the retraction, to obtain the “refusal” on the Breath Test affidavit. ” Florida courts have ruled where the driver / defendant was continuously in presence of officers between refusal and retraction, and there would have been no inconvenience to law enforcement in permitting defendant to take test, the refusal cannot be held against them in a DUI case.

What must a driver be told by police seeking a DUI breath test?

 

  • Request to submit to a test
  • Suspend for 12 months for first refusal
  • Suspend for 18 months for subsequent refusal
  • Second or subsequent refusal can be a misdemeanor
  • Refusal is admissible in criminal case

“It is not hard to imagine circumstances where the defendant,

soon after declining to take the breath test, has second thoughts.”


Here is the  text of one court’s ruling:

STATE OF FLORIDA, Plaintiff, vs. STEVEN PAUL BURCH, Defendant. County Court, 12th Judicial Circuit in and for Sarasota County. Case No. 2015 CT 012729 SC. April 20, 2017.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION IN LIMINE

THIS CAUSE having come to be heard upon Defendant, Steven Paul Burch’s Motion in Limine, to preclude the State from introducing any evidence that the Defendant initially refused to submit to a breath test, the Court having held hearing and taking testimony and otherwise being fully advised finds as follows:

1. On August 8, 2015, Mr. Burch was arrested for DUI.

2. Mr. Burch initially refused to take a breath test at the scene of the arrest, but changed his mind and requested to take a breath test once he arrived at the Sarasota County Jail.

3. Mr. Burch was continuously in the presence of Trooper Angelicchi from the time of his initial refusal until his retraction of the refusal.

4. When Mr. Burch arrived at the Sarasota County Jail, an Intoxilyzer was available to conduct a breath as well as two permitted breath test operators to conduct the breath test: Trooper Angelicchi and Corrections Officer Rowe.

5. The breath test affidavit that is marked “subject test refused” shows that the Intoxilyzer was run at 11:37 pm, which was long after Mr. Burch retracted the refusal.

6. In Larmer v. State of Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 522 So.2d 941 (Fla. 4th DCA 1988), the court stated:

. . .an “absolute rule” prohibiting a subsequent consent after an initial refusal could lead to unnecessarily harsh and self-defeating results. It is not hard to imagine circumstances where the defendant, soon after declining to take the breath test, has second thoughts. If the test results would remain valid, and if no material inconvenience is caused to the police, we fail to see the harm in permitting the defendant to subsequently consent to take the test.

The Court held:

. . .while petitioner was continuously in the presence of the police officers, and in circumstances where no inconvenience would result by permitting him immediately thereafter to take the test that would produce the evidence that is the object and intent of Florida’s Implied Consent Law.
Larmer citied to a Utah case that held a one hour delay was not a refusal.

7. In this case Mr. Burch was continuously in the presence of the police officers. There was no material inconvenience to the police, for two Intoxilyzers and two Intoxilyzer operators were available. Trooper Angelicchi actually ran his Intoxilyzer, after the retraction, to obtain the “refusal” on the Breath Test affidavit. There was no lawful reason not to let Mr. Burch submit to a breath test when Trooper Angelicchi was conducting the test for the ‘refusal.” The duration of the time between the refusal at the scene of the arrest and the retraction upon arrival at the jail was not of such length to render the breath test invalid.

8. While Mr. Burch initially refused the breath test, he later retracted his refusal and requested a breath test. Following Larmer, since Mr. Burch was continuously in the presence of the police officers and under circumstances where no inconvenience would result by permitting him to take a breath test, there was not a refusal within the meaning of Florida’s Implied Consent Law. Also see State v. Eng, 6 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 649a (Fla. Pinellas Cty. Ct. September 15, 1998).

Accordingly, the Defendant’s Motion in Limine is GRANTED.

Source: 25 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 289a Online Reference: FLWSUPP 2503BURC

How to get a Florida Driver’s License back after Suspension?

 

Recently courts have tried to help those with suspended licenses get their driver’s licenses back. According a recent report in the Florida Bar News, one judge organized a “clinic, the first of its kind in Leon County, in order to help resolve a significant problem in the area. Hundreds of Leon County drivers are operating a vehicle with a suspended or revoked license, and Smith says nine out of 10 drivers do not understand what is required of them to get their licenses back.” However, judges are limited in the help that can be provided to those who are subjected to the administrative license suspensions issued to those impacts from driving under the influence charges. Among the reasons these special programs apply: failure to resolve traffic infractions; accumulating too many points on a license; failure to have insurance; or failure to satisfy child support obligations.

Florida Implied Consent Warning Summary

Here is a summary of the language police use when threatening a suspect to take a breath or chemical test:

“If you fail to submit to the test I have requested of you, your privilege to operate a motor vehicle will be suspended for a period of one (1) year for a first refusal, or eighteen (18) months if your privilege has been previously suspended as a result of a refusal to submit to a lawful test of your breath, urine or blood. Additionally, if you refuse to submit to the test I have requested of you and if your driving privilege has been previously suspended for a prior refusal to submit to a lawful test of your breath, urine or blood, you will be committing a misdemeanor. Refusal to submit to the test I have requested of you is admissible into evidence in any criminal proceeding.”

“Do you still refuse to submit to this test knowing that your driving privilege will be suspended for a period of at least one year and that you will be charged criminally for a subsequent refusal?”

 

Search Warrant Required for Vehicle Event Data Recorder

Do Florida Police need a search warrant to download the data from a motor vehicle’s black box?

 

Search Warrant Vehicle Event Data Recorder

Search Warrant Vehicle Event Data Recorder

A court in Palm Beach Florida has just ruled that the police need a search warrant in a DUI case when they seek to recover the data from a car’s Black Box. This device is known as a vehicle event data recorder. In this case the police downloaded the data from a car’s Black Box 12 days after a crash without obtaining a warrant. The court in a first-ever ruling in Florida found that the cops should have gotten a search warrant. The court ruled. “the constant, unrelenting black box surveillance of driving conditions could contribute to a reasonable expectation of privacy in the recorded data. Considering that the data is difficult to access and not all of the recorded information is exposed to the public, [the driver] Worsham had a reasonable expectation of privacy, and we agree with the trial court that a warrant was required before police could search the black box.”


History of Vehicle Event Data Recorders in Florida Court

In 2009 we wrote and provided a copy of another court opinion on the issues surrounding cops breaking in to a vehicle event recorder.  “Prosecutors alleged recently, data from a Corvette that was downloaded from the black box revealed that a defendant’s speed was 103 m.p.h. five seconds before impact and 98 m.p.h. one second before impact. The Speed limit was 40 m.p.h. A recent court ruling noted, ”A search warrant for property may be issued ‘[w]hen any property constitutes evidence relevant to proving that a felony has been committed.’ Section 933.02(3), Fla. Stat. (2006).” Black Box Search Warrant Article from Florida. You can read the complete decision we posted here: 2009 Black Box Florida Court Ruling  https://duifla.com/BlackBoxSearchWarrant.pdf


I have included some key quotes from the recent  Court’s opinion and the complete Court’s opinion follows below.


Florida DUI Vehicle Event Data Recorder Key Quotes


“An event data recorder is a device installed in a vehicle to record “crash data” or technical vehicle and occupant information for a period of time before, during, and after a crash.”

“It is an issue of first impression in Florida whether a warrant is required to search an impounded vehicle’s electronic data recorder or black box.”

“17 states have laws addressing event data recorders, which provide under what circumstances the data may be downloaded.”

“[T]he constant, unrelenting black box surveillance of driving conditions could contribute to a reasonable expectation of privacy in the recorded data.”


“A car’s black box is analogous to other electronic storage devices for which courts have recognized a reasonable expectation of privacy.”


Complete Florida DUI Vehicle Event Data Recorder Opinion

DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA
FOURTH DISTRICT
STATE OF FLORIDA,
Appellant,

v.

CHARLES WILEY WORSHAM, JR.,
Appellee.
No. 4D15-2733
[March 29, 2017]

Appeal of a non-final order from the Circuit Court for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit, Palm Beach County; Jack Schramm Cox, Judge; L.T. Case No. 2013CF012609AMB.
Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Mitchell A. Egber, Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for appellant.
Jack A. Fleischman of Fleischman & Fleischman, P.A., West Palm Beach, for appellee.
GROSS, J.

The state challenges an order granting appellee Charles Worsham’s motion to suppress. Without a warrant, the police downloaded data from the “event data recorder” or “black box” located in Worsham’s impounded vehicle. We affirm, concluding there is a reasonable expectation of privacy in the information retained by an event data recorder and downloading that information without a warrant from an impounded car in the absence of exigent circumstances violated the Fourth Amendment.

Worsham was the driver of a vehicle involved in a high speed accident that killed his passenger. The vehicle was impounded. Twelve days after the crash, on October 18, 2013, law enforcement downloaded the information retained on the vehicle’s event data recorder. The police did not apply for a warrant until October 22, 2013. The warrant application was denied because the desired search had already occurred.

Worsham was later arrested and charged with DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide. He moved to suppress the downloaded information,
– 2 –
arguing the police could not access this data without first obtaining his consent or a search warrant. The state defended the search on the sole ground that Worsham had no privacy interest in the downloaded information, so that no Fourth Amendment search occurred.

1 The trial court granted Worsham’s motion.

“A motion to suppress evidence generally involves a mixed question of fact and law. The trial court’s factual determinations will not be disturbed if they are supported by competent substantial evidence, while the constitutional issues are reviewed de novo.” State v. K.C., 207 So. 3d 951, 953 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016) (internal citation omitted). An appellate court is bound by the trial court’s findings of fact unless they are clearly erroneous. Id. The burden is on the defendant to show the search was invalid, “[h]owever, a warrantless search constitutes a prima facie showing which shifts to the State the burden of showing the search’s legality.” Id. (internal citation omitted).

In Florida, citizens are guaranteed the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures by the Fourth Amendment to the Unites States Constitution and section 12 of Florida’s Declaration of Rights. Smallwood v. State, 113 So. 3d 724, 730 (Fla. 2013). “The most basic constitutional rule” in the area of Fourth Amendment searches is that “searches conducted outside the judicial process, without prior approval by judge or magistrate, are per se unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment—subject only to a few specifically established and well-delineated exceptions.” The exceptions are “jealously and carefully drawn,” and there must be “a showing by those who seek exemption . . . that the exigencies of the situation made that course imperative.” “[T]he burden is on those seeking the exemption to show the need for it.”

Id. at 729 (quoting Coolidge v. New Hampshire, 403 U.S. 443, 454–55 (1971)).

“A Fourth Amendment search occurs when the government violates a subjective expectation of privacy that society recognizes as reasonable.” State v. Lampley, 817 So. 2d 989, 990 (Fla. 4th DCA 2002) (quoting Kyllo v. United States, 533 U.S. 27, 33 (2001)). This principle has been applied

1 The state raises inevitable discovery and good faith in its brief. We do not reach these issues because they were not preserved in the circuit court. Sunset Harbour Condo. Ass’n v. Robbins, 914 So. 2d 925, 928 (Fla. 2005).

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“to hold that a Fourth Amendment search does not occur . . . unless ‘the individual manifested a subjective expectation of privacy in the object of the challenged search,’ and ‘society [is] willing to recognize that expectation as reasonable.’” Lampley, 817 So. 2d at 990-91 (quoting Kyllo, 533 U.S. at 33)).

Katz v. United States explained “the Fourth Amendment protects people, not places,” so “[w]hat a person knowingly exposes to the public, even in his own home or office, is not a subject of Fourth Amendment protection.” 389 U.S. 347, 351 (1967). One example is a car’s exterior, which “is thrust into the public eye, and thus to examine it does not constitute a ‘search.’” New York v. Class, 475 U.S. 106, 114 (1986); see also Cardwell v. Lewis, 417 U.S. 583, 592 (1974) (permitting warrantless search of an automobile’s exterior).

Nevertheless, information someone seeks to “preserve as private,” even where that information is accessible to the public, “may be constitutionally protected.” Katz, 389 U.S. at 351. This is why “a car’s interior as a whole is . . . subject to Fourth Amendment protection from unreasonable intrusions by the police.” Class, 475 U.S. at 114–15; see also United States v. Ortiz, 422 U.S. 891, 896 (1975) (“A search, even of an automobile, is a substantial invasion of privacy.”).

A car’s black box is analogous to other electronic storage devices for which courts have recognized a reasonable expectation of privacy. Modern technology facilitates the storage of large quantities of information on small, portable devices. The emerging trend is to require a warrant to search these devices. See Riley v. California, 134 S. Ct. 2473 (2014) (requiring warrant to search cell phone seized incident to arrest); Smallwood, 113 So. 3d 724 (requiring warrant to search cell phone in search incident to arrest); State v. K.C., 207 So. 3d 951 (requiring warrant to search an “abandoned” but locked cell phone).

Noting that cell phones can access or contain “[t]he most private and secret personal information, Smallwood, 113 So. 3d at 732, the Florida Supreme Court has distinguished these computer-like electronic storage devices from other inanimate objects:

[A]nalogizing computers to other physical objects when applying Fourth Amendment law is not an exact fit because computers hold so much personal and sensitive information touching on many private aspects of life. . . . [T]here is a far greater potential for the “inter-mingling” of documents and a

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consequent invasion of privacy when police execute a search for evidence on a computer.

Id. (quoting United States v. Lucas, 640 F.3d 168, 178 (6th Cir. 2011)). Because of the “very personal and vast nature of the information” they contain, cell phones are “materially distinguishable from the static, limited-capacity cigarette packet in Robinson.”2 Smallwood, 113 So. 3d at 732. “[T]he search of a static, non-interactive container, cannot be deemed analogous to the search of a modern electronic device cell phone.” Id. The Smallwood court made clear that the opinion was “narrowly limited to the legal question and facts with which [it] was presented.” Id. at 741. Nonetheless, the court reiterated its desire to protect Fourth Amendment precedent “by ensuring that the exceptions to the warrant requirement remain ‘jealously and carefully drawn.’” Id. at 740.

The United States Supreme Court drew a similar distinction between a cell phone and other tangible objects in Riley v. California. The Court held that the search incident to arrest exception did not apply because neither rationale–the interest in protecting officer safety or preventing destruction of evidence–justified the warrantless search of cell phone data. Riley, 134 S. Ct. at 2486-88. “Cell phones differ in both a quantitative and a qualitative sense from other objects that might be kept on an arrestee’s person. The term ‘cell phone’ is itself misleading shorthand; many of these devices are in fact minicomputers . . . .” Id. at 2489.

Searches of these “minicomputers,” with their “immense storage capacity,” are far more intrusive than searches prior to the “digital age,” which were “limited by physical realities and tended as a general matter to constitute only a narrow intrusion on privacy.” Id. The capacity of these devices “allows even just one type of information to convey far more than previously possible.” Id. The Court concluded, “[t]he fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought.” Id. at 2495.

It is an issue of first impression in Florida whether a warrant is required to search an impounded vehicle’s electronic data recorder or black box.3

2 United States v. Robinson, 414 U.S. 218 (1973) (permitting the warrantless search of an arrestee’s person incident to arrest if the officer had probable cause for the arrest).
3 As of this writing, 17 states have laws addressing event data recorders, which provide under what circumstances the data may be downloaded. Privacy of Data From Event Data Recorders: State Statutes, NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF STATE

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An event data recorder is a device installed in a vehicle to record “crash data” or technical vehicle and occupant information for a period of time before, during, and after a crash. NHTSA, Event Data Recorders, 49 C.F.R. § 563.5 (2015). Approximately 96% of cars manufactured since 2013 are equipped with event data recorders. Black box 101: Understanding event data recorders, CONSUMER REPORTS, https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/10/black-box-101-understanding-event-data-recorders/index.htm, (published Jan. 2014).

Most of these devices are programmed either to activate during an event or record information in a continuous loop, writing over data again and again until the vehicle is in a collision. Michelle V. Rafter, Decoding What’s in Your Car’s Black Box, EDMUNDS, https://www.edmunds.com/car-technology/car-black-box-recorders-capture-crash-data.html (updated July 22, 2014). However, if triggered, the device can record multiple events. 49 C.F.R. § 563.9.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has standardized the minimum requirements for electronic data recorders, mandating that the devices record 15 specific data inputs, including braking, stability control engagement, ignition cycle, engine rpm, steering, and the severity and duration of a crash. 49 C.F.R. § 563.7. Along with these required data inputs, the devices may record additional information like location or cruise control status and some devices can even perform diagnostic examinations to determine whether the vehicle’s systems are operating properly.

See Decoding ‘The Black Box’ with Expert Advice, AMERICAN BAR ASSOC. GP SOLO LAW TRENDS & NEWS, https://www.americanbar.org/content/newsletter/publications/law_trends_news_practice_area_e_newsletter_home/decodingblackbox.html (May 2005); Vehicular Data Recorder Download, Collection, and Analysis, COLLISION RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS INC., https://collisionresearch.com/services/event-data-recorder-0.

The information contained in a vehicle’s black box is fairly difficult to obtain. The data retrieval kit necessary to extract the information is expensive and each manufacturer’s data recorder requires a different type of cable to connect with the diagnostic port. Rafter, supra. The downloaded data must then be interpreted by a specialist with extensive training. Id.; see also Melissa Massheder Torres, The Automotive Black Box, 55 REV. DER. P.R. 191, 192 (2015).
LEGISLATURES, https://www.ncsl.org/research/telecommunications-and-information-technology/privacy-of-data-from-event-data-recorders.aspx (Jan. 4, 2016). Florida does not have similar legislation.

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The record reflects that the black box in Worsham’s vehicle recorded speed and braking data, the car’s change in velocity, steering input, yaw rate, angular rate, safety belt status, system voltage, and airbag warning lamp information.

Extracting and interpreting the information from a car’s black box is not like putting a car on a lift and examining the brakes or tires. Because the recorded data is not exposed to the public, and because the stored data is so difficult to extract and interpret, we hold there is a reasonable expectation of privacy in that information, protected by the Fourth Amendment, which required law enforcement in the absence of exigent circumstances to obtain a warrant before extracting the information from an impounded vehicle.

Although electronic data recorders do not yet store the same quantity of information as a cell phone, nor is it of the same personal nature, the rationale for requiring a warrant to search a cell phone is informative in determining whether a warrant is necessary to search an immobilized vehicle’s data recorder. These recorders document more than what is voluntarily conveyed to the public and the information is inherently different from the tangible “mechanical” parts of a vehicle. Just as cell phones evolved to contain more and more personal information, as the electronic systems in cars have gotten more complex, the data recorders are able to record more information.4 The difficulty in extracting such information buttresses an expectation of privacy.

Recently enacted federal legislation enhances the notion that there is an expectation of privacy in information contained in an automobile data recorder. The Driver Privacy Act of 2015 states that “[a]ny data retained by an event data recorder . . . is the property of the owner . . . of the motor vehicle in which the event data recorder is installed.” § 24302(a), 49 U.S.C. § 30101 note (2015). The general rule of the statute is that “[d]ata recorded or transmitted by an event data recorder . . . may not be accessed by a person other than an owner . . . of the motor vehicle in which the event data recorder is installed.” § 24302(b) (emphasis added). There are only five exceptions to this rule, which include authorization from a court or administrative authority or consent of the owner. § 24302(b)(1)-(5).

4 See U.S. GOV’T ACCOUNTABILITY OFF., REPORT TO CHAIRMAN, SUBCOMM. ON PRIVACY, TECH. AND THE LAW, COMM. ON THE JUDICIARY, U.S. SENATE, (Dec. 2013), https://www.gao.gov/assets/660/659509.pdf; Peter Gareffa, Senate Committee Approves Black Box Privacy Bill, EDMUNDS, (Apr. 18, 2014), https://www.edmunds.com/car-news/senate-committee-approves-black-box-privacy-bill.html.

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A state court in California has addressed the Fourth Amendment’s application to a vehicle’s data recorder. That authority is not persuasive or controlling and was decided prior to the passing of the Driver Privacy Act of 2015.

People v. Diaz, held that the defendant lacked a privacy interest in his vehicle’s speed and braking data, obtained from the “sensing diagnostic module” after a fatal accident, 153 Cal. Rptr. 3d 90 (Cal. Ct. App. 2013). It was undisputed the search was conducted without a warrant, over a year after the accident. Id. at 96. There was testimony about the defendant’s speed at the time of the accident, but the officer conceded this was based on the information downloaded from the vehicle’s sensing diagnostic module. Id. at 94.

The court concluded that the defendant failed to demonstrate “a subjective expectation of privacy in the SDM’s recorded data because she was driving on the public roadway, and others could observe her vehicle’s movements, braking, and speed, either directly or through the use of technology such as radar guns or automated cameras.” Id. at 102. Since the diagnostic module “merely captured information defendant knowingly exposed to the public,” downloading that information without a warrant was not a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Id. (citing Smith v. Maryland 442 U.S. 735, 741–45 (1979) (holding installation of a pen register did not violate the Fourth Amendment because it only recorded information “voluntarily conveyed . . . in the ordinary course of business.”)).

Diaz is unpersuasive. It relied on Smith v. Maryland, which found no expectation of privacy in information “voluntarily conveyed” to a third party. 422 U.S. at 745. However, when addressing digital devices, the Supreme Court has moved away from the Smith rationale. In United States v. Jones, the Court could have relied on Smith when considering the constitutionality of placing a GPS tracking device on a vehicle without a warrant, since the vehicle’s position “had been voluntarily conveyed to the public.” 132 S. Ct. 945, 951 (2012). Instead, the Court relied on a trespass theory to find that while “mere visual observation does not constitute a search,” attaching a device to the vehicle or reaching into a vehicle’s interior constitutes “encroach[ment] on a protected area.” Id. at 952-53.

Additionally, the Diaz court’s reliance on Smith v. Maryland seems misplaced because, as the opinion acknowledged, sensory diagnostic modules can record much more information than what is observable to the public, including “the throttle, steering, suspension, brakes, tires, and wheels.” 213 Cal. App. 4th at 748. We disagree with Diaz that all black box data is “exposed to the public.”

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Although the issue was not before the Court, the majority in Jones acknowledged that acquiring data “through electronic means, without an accompanying trespass,” could still be “an unconstitutional invasion of privacy.” Id. at 953.

In his concurring opinion, Justice Alito expressed a preference for analyzing the case by “asking whether [Jones’s] reasonable expectations of privacy were violated by the long-term monitoring of the movements of the vehicle he drove.” 132 S. Ct. at 958. Justice Alito observed that the Katz expectation-of-privacy test, rests on the assumption that this hypothetical reasonable person has a well-developed and stable set of privacy expectations. Dramatic technological change may lead to periods in which popular expectations are in flux and may ultimately produce significant changes in popular attitudes. New technology may provide increased convenience or security at the expense of privacy, and many people may find the trade off worthwhile.
Id. at 962.

Under Justice Alito’s approach, the constant, unrelenting black box surveillance of driving conditions could contribute to a reasonable expectation of privacy in the recorded data. Considering that the data is difficult to access and not all of the recorded information is exposed to the public, Worsham had a reasonable expectation of privacy, and we agree with the trial court that a warrant was required before police could search the black box.

Affirmed.
KLINGENSMITH, J., concurs.
FORST, J., dissents with opinion.
FORST, J., dissenting.
I respectfully dissent. There are not many court opinions addressing a warrantless search of the “black box” event data recorder (“EDR”) attached to an individual’s motor vehicle.5 An opinion by a “Justice Court” in New
5 In General Motors vehicles, the EDR is also referred to as the “Sensing Diagnostic Module (SDM).” People v. Diaz, 153 Cal. Reptr. 3d 90, 92 n.2 (Ct. App. 2013); People v. Christmann, 776 N.Y.S.2d 437, 438 (Just. Ct. 2004). “The SDM . . . has multiple functions: (1) it determines if a severe enough impact has occurred to warrant deployment of the air bag; (2) it monitors the air bag’s
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York (similar to a circuit court in Florida)6 and an appellate court in California7 appear to be the only published precedent addressing the instant matter. Obviously, searches of EDRs in motor vehicles were not on the minds of the first United States Congress when the Fourth Amendment was introduced in 1789, and the United States Constitution’s right to privacy sheds no light on the subject (particularly since there is no provision actually describing such a right to privacy).8
Thus, there is no definitive answer to the question posed in this case—whether the warrantless search of Appellee’s car’s EDR constituted a violation of his Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches. Nonetheless, contrary to the well-reasoned majority opinion, I conclude that the “search” of the EDR attached to Appellee’s vehicle was not a search or seizure protected by the Fourth Amendment, as Appellee did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy with respect to the data in this particular EDR.
Background
The relevant facts are set forth in the majority opinion.
Analysis
As noted in the majority opinion, “[a] Fourth Amendment search occurs when the government violates a subjective expectation of privacy that society recognizes as reasonable.” State v. Lampley, 817 So. 2d 989, 990 (Fla. 4th DCA 2002) (quoting Kyllo v. United States, 533 U.S. 27, 33 (2001)). The reverse is also true: “a Fourth Amendment search does not occur . . . unless ‘the individual manifested a subjective expectation of privacy in the object of the challenged search,’ and ‘society [is] willing to
components; and (3) it permanently records information.” Bachman v. Gen. Motors Corp., 776 N.E.2d 262, 271-72 (Ill. App. Ct. 2002).
6 Christmann, 776 N.Y.S.2d 437.
7 Diaz, 153 Cal. Reptr. 3d 90. Diaz is discussed in this opinion. Another California appellate court decision, People v. Xinos, 121 Cal. Rptr. 3d 496 (Ct. App. 2011), which held that the downloading of data from the vehicle’s EDR following an accident violated the driver’s Fourth Amendment rights, is not discussed as it predates Diaz and was ordered not to be officially published. Id. at 507-12.
8 Appellee does not rely upon the Florida Constitution’s Right of Privacy, Article I, Section 23. Further, that provision yields to Article I, Section 12 with respect to “searches and seizures,” with the Florida Constitutional right “construed in conformity with the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution, as interpreted by the United States Supreme Court.”
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recognize that expectation as reasonable.’” Id. at 991 (alterations in original) (quoting Kyllo, 533 U.S. at 33).
In contrast to a cellular phone, an EDR does not contain “a broad array of private information” such as photos, passwords, and other “sensitive records previously found in the home.” Riley v. California, 134 S. Ct. 2473, 2491 (2014). Significantly, the EDR in the instant case did not contain GPS information relative to the vehicle’s travels, which may be subject to privacy protection. See United States v. Jones, 565 U.S. 400, 415-17 (2012) (Sotomayor, J., concurring) (expressing concern with GPS information which “reflects a wealth of detail about [a person’s] familial, political, professional, religious, and sexual associations”). As noted in the majority opinion, the EDR in this case was only recording speed and braking data, the car’s change in velocity, steering input, yaw rate,9 angular rate, safety belt status, system voltage, and airbag warning lamp information. Moreover, this data had not been knowingly inputted by Appellee; in fact, it is likely that Appellee did not even know that the vehicle he was driving had an EDR. Therefore, it would be quite a stretch to conclude that Appellee sought to preserve this information as “private.”
The majority opinion references the United States Supreme Court’s Riley decision as well as this Court’s recent opinion in State v. K.C., 207 So. 3d 951 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016). Both cases involved cell phones. As distinguished from an EDR attached to an undercarriage of a motor vehicle, cell phones are usually carried close to an individual’s body, generally in a pants or shirt pocket or in a purse or belt case. The database of the EDR in this case carries extremely non-private, non-confidential information, such as the vehicle’s yaw rate; a cell phone, on the other hand, “collects in one place many distinct types of information—an address, a note, a prescription, a bank statement, a video—that reveal much more in combination than any isolated record.” Riley, 134 S. Ct. at 2489. A reasonably prudent seller of his/her used cellphone or personal computer would clear the hard drive of all personal information; the seller of a used vehicle would be unlikely to take similar action with respect to the vehicle’s EDR.
9 “A yaw rotation is a movement around the yaw axis of a rigid body that changes the direction it is pointing, to the left or right of its direction of motion. The yaw rate or yaw velocity of a car, aircraft, projectile or other rigid body is the angular velocity of this rotation . . . .” Yaw (rotation), WIKIPEDIA (Mar. 13, 2017, 2:37 PM), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yaw_(rotation) (emphasis omitted). Yes, I also didn’t know what this was.
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In our K.C. opinion, we emphasized that, though abandoned by the phone’s owner, “[the] contents [of the cell phone] were still protected by a password, clearly indicating an intention to protect the privacy of all of the digital material on the cell phone or able to be accessed by it.” K.C., 207 So. 3d at 955. The private data in a cell phone is, for the most part, created by the owner and is password protected by the owner for his/her own benefit and privacy. The data on the EDR, however, was not created by the owner and was not protected by a password by or for the benefit of the owner (even though there apparently was a password-like encryption on the data). This data is collected and stored in the interest of public safety, including the safety of the vehicle’s driver.
In the aforementioned New York Christmann decision which involved a prosecution for speeding and failing to exercise due care, the court held that the motorist had only a diminished expectation of privacy following an accident with respect to the vehicle’s mechanical areas, and therefore retrieval by law enforcement of data stored in the vehicle’s SDM did not constitute an unreasonable search and seizure. Christmann, 776 N.Y.S.2d at 441-42; see also People v. Quackenbush, 670 N.E.2d 434, 439-40 (N.Y. 1996) (similar, and specifically referring to the diminished expectation of privacy yielding to the overwhelming state interest in investigating fatal accidents).
The California case of Diaz involved a situation similar to the instant case. Diaz, 153 Cal. Rptr. 3d 90. There was a motor vehicle accident and, as part of their investigation, law enforcement personnel, without a warrant, downloaded the SDM. Id. at 96. The California Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s ruling that there was no reasonable expectation of privacy with respect to the data in the SDM, finding the defendant failed to demonstrate “a subjective expectation of privacy in the SDM’s recorded data because she was driving on the public roadway, and others could observe her vehicle’s movements, braking, and speed, either directly or through the use of technology such as radar guns or automated cameras.” Id. at 102. “[T]echnology merely captured information defendant knowingly exposed to the public—the speed at which she was travelling and whether she applied her brakes before the impact.” Id.
The majority opinion discounts the reasoning in Diaz, finding it neither “persuasive [n]or controlling.” Certainly, it is not controlling. However, it is persuasive, as the trial court’s decision denying the defendant’s motion to suppress, quoted in the District Court’s opinion, is particularly logical:
“Assuming the defendant had such knowledge [that there was an SDM in the car] and also had an expectation of privacy, it
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does not seem that such expectation would be reasonable. These computer modules were placed in cars as safety devices to gather information such as braking and speed, so as to be able to deploy the air bag at an appropriate time. They were not designed to gather any personal information nor designed or developed by the government to gather incrimination evidence from a driver. One cannot record communication of any kind on them. Indeed, they are not under the control of the individual driver at all.”
The trial court further held: “[Defendant] had no reasonable expectation of privacy in her speed on a public roadway or when and if she applied her brakes shortly before the crash. If a witness observed those actions and testified to them, the evidence would be admitted. If an expert in accident reconstruction testified to them, that evidence would be admitted. There is no difference in an electronic witness whose memory is much more accurately preserved, both to exonerate and implicate defendants.”
Id. at 97.
The majority opinion maintains that Diaz inappropriately relied on Smith v. Maryland, 442 U.S. 735 (1979), and implies that Jones is the operative Supreme Court precedent for this issue. Actually, the Diaz opinion discusses Jones at some length, noting that the Supreme Court decision was based “on the common law theory of trespass in placing the GPS on the defendant’s personal property, combined with the police attempt to obtain information,” and the “trespass theory underlying Jones has no relevance [in this SDM search case] and, as the trial court aptly pointed out, the purpose of the SDM was not to obtain information for the police.” Diaz, 153 Cal. Rptr. 3d at 101. The majority in the instant case suggests that the Jones opinion’s reliance on this trespass theory when it could have relied on the Smith theory means that Smith is no longer binding precedent. But the fact that the Supreme Court chose to resolve Jones on the narrower trespass grounds rather than to wade into the waters of voluntary conveyance of information from Smith means only that trespass is a viable Fourth Amendment consideration, not that trespass is the only consideration remaining.
Furthermore, in Jones, the government placed a GPS tracking device on the defendant’s car to monitor the vehicle’s movement and location. Jones, 565 U.S. at 403. By contrast, an EDR is installed on vehicles before they are sold/leased to a driver and the purpose is not to track the vehicle’s
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location or route. Moreover, although the EDR is placed under the vehicle and most vehicle owners and drivers are unaware that there is such a black box attached to the vehicle, there is no attempt on the part of the government to secretively attach the EDR and have it record this information. Unlike the situation in Jones, the attachment of the EDR is not directed at any individual; as noted in the majority opinion, “[a]pproximately 96% of cars manufactured since 2013 are equipped with event data recorders” and they are installed prior to the conveyance of the vehicle to any individual.
Conclusion
The data that the government extracted from the vehicle that was owned and driven by Appellee in this case was not information for which Appellee or any other owner/driver had a reasonable expectation of privacy. The data was not personal to Appellee, was not password protected by Appellee, and was not being collected and maintained solely for the benefit of Appellee. The EDR was installed by the vehicle’s manufacturer at the behest of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and, as distinct from Jones, the purpose of the data collection is highway and driver safety. See New York v. Class, 475 U.S. 106, 113 (1986) (“[A]utomobiles are justifiably the subject of pervasive regulation by the State [and e]very operator of a motor vehicle must expect the State, in enforcing its regulations, will intrude to some extent upon that operator’s privacy.”).
Accordingly, as the extraction of data from the vehicle’s EDR in the instant case was not a search or seizure protected by the Fourth Amendment, I would reverse the trial court’s suppression of this evidence. Thus, I respectfully dissent.
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Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

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