Defining Pot Laws in Florida

 

There is a popular push by people in several states to make the use of marijuana legal as a treatment for certain chronic and/or terminal conditions. Not quite as popular, but still present, is a push to legalize it completely for over the counter sale. At present, a few states have passed laws allowing doctors to prescribe for specific conditions and its sale under tight controls. Florida is not on this list. Therefore, before entering the state with pot, one should know the cannabis laws in Florida.

Marijuana related charges are progressive in severity and punitive sentencing. At the lowest level, possession of 20 grams or less is a misdemeanor. Possession of paraphernalia, such as pipes, bongs, etc. Is also a misdemeanor and can be added to the drug charge. Each carries a sentence of up to a year in jail and/or a thousand dollar fine. Delivery of less than 20 grams without receiving payment falls into this class as well.

Delivering more than 20 grams but less than 25 plants (pounds), selling any amount up to 25 plants (pounds), and possession of 20 grams to 25 plants (pounds) are all felonies. Each can be punished by a 5 year prison sentence and/or a 5000 dollar fine.

Growing or selling any amount of cannabis in close proximity to schools, parks, daycare centers, and other places where children are likely to gather can, and usually does, result in 15 years in prison and a 10,000 dollar fine. Possession of more than 24 plants (pounds) of marijuana carries the same penalty. Judges almost always hand out maximum sentences when schools and children are endangered.

One is considered to be trafficking in illegal substances if he/she grows or sells more than 25 pounds (plants). The state has established minimum mandatory sentences for any trafficking conviction. This means that judges have no latitude whatsoever in setting sentences. Even offenders who ultimately help authorities catch large traffickers will face the minimum sentences.

The minimum sentence for 25 plants up to 2000 plants (pounds)is 3 years in prison and up to a 25,000 dollar fine. 2000 to 10,000 plants (pounds) is punishable by not less than 7 years in prison and a 50,000 dollar fine. The minimum sentence possible for amounts of marijuana in excess of 10,000 plants (pounds) is 15 years in prison and a 200,000 dollar fine.

One will lose his/her driver’s license to suspension for a period of not less than 6 months nor more than 2 years if convicted of any drug related charge. This includes misdemeanor possession as well as the various felonies. This is in addition to any other punishments handed out by the court system for the various charges.

One can now obtain a prescription from a doctor for marijuana to treat certain conditions in a few states. Florida is not one of these states. Knowing the cannabis laws in Florida is is important to anyone considering carrying the drug into the state or growing it there. Anyone convicted of trafficking in pot will face certain minimum mandatory prison sentences and monetary fines. Judges have no leeway in sentencing these offenders.

Advertisements
Published in: on January 5, 2012 at 7:03 pm  Comments Off on Defining Pot Laws in Florida  
Tags: , , , , , ,

Defining Pot Laws in Florida

 

There is a popular push by people in several states to make the use of marijuana legal as a treatment for certain chronic and/or terminal conditions. Not quite as popular, but still present, is a push to legalize it completely for over the counter sale. At present, a few states have passed laws allowing doctors to prescribe for specific conditions and its sale under tight controls. Florida is not on this list. Therefore, before entering the state with pot, one should know the cannabis laws in Florida.

Marijuana related charges are progressive in severity and punitive sentencing. At the lowest level, possession of 20 grams or less is a misdemeanor. Possession of paraphernalia, such as pipes, bongs, etc. Is also a misdemeanor and can be added to the drug charge. Each carries a sentence of up to a year in jail and/or a thousand dollar fine. Delivery of less than 20 grams without receiving payment falls into this class as well.

Delivering more than 20 grams but less than 25 plants (pounds), selling any amount up to 25 plants (pounds), and possession of 20 grams to 25 plants (pounds) are all felonies. Each can be punished by a 5 year prison sentence and/or a 5000 dollar fine.

Growing or selling any amount of cannabis in close proximity to schools, parks, daycare centers, and other places where children are likely to gather can, and usually does, result in 15 years in prison and a 10,000 dollar fine. Possession of more than 24 plants (pounds) of marijuana carries the same penalty. Judges almost always hand out maximum sentences when schools and children are endangered.

One is considered to be trafficking in illegal substances if he/she grows or sells more than 25 pounds (plants). The state has established minimum mandatory sentences for any trafficking conviction. This means that judges have no latitude whatsoever in setting sentences. Even offenders who ultimately help authorities catch large traffickers will face the minimum sentences.

The minimum sentence for 25 plants up to 2000 plants (pounds)is 3 years in prison and up to a 25,000 dollar fine. 2000 to 10,000 plants (pounds) is punishable by not less than 7 years in prison and a 50,000 dollar fine. The minimum sentence possible for amounts of marijuana in excess of 10,000 plants (pounds) is 15 years in prison and a 200,000 dollar fine.

One will lose his/her driver’s license to suspension for a period of not less than 6 months nor more than 2 years if convicted of any drug related charge. This includes misdemeanor possession as well as the various felonies. This is in addition to any other punishments handed out by the court system for the various charges.

One can now obtain a prescription from a doctor for marijuana to treat certain conditions in a few states. Florida is not one of these states. Knowing the cannabis laws in Florida is is important to anyone considering carrying the drug into the state or growing it there. Anyone convicted of trafficking in pot will face certain minimum mandatory prison sentences and monetary fines. Judges have no leeway in sentencing these offenders.

Published in: on January 5, 2012 at 7:01 pm  Comments Off on Defining Pot Laws in Florida  
Tags: , , , , , ,

The Ins and Outs of Traffic Tickets

Almost every driver has experienced the dreaded traffic ticket at some point or another. No sooner do you accelerate on the highway than you see the flashing lights and siren behind you indicating a wrong-doing. A momentary lapse of good judgment should not, however, tarnish your clean driving record. Knowing how to fight a traffic ticket will ensure that you don’t pay excess fines or get your license taken away.

It is extremely important to remember to always respect the law; never get angry with the officer or start arguing with them, as this will only get you further into trouble. Be sure to directly answer all of the officer’s questions in a courteous and polite manner. Do not exit your vehicle unless they ask you to.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that you should not openly admit your guilt or try and come up with unbelievable stories or excuses. Let the officer explain your infraction and if they ask if you know what you did, answer with a simple, “No, I don’t.” For a speeding offense, be sure that they inform you of what speed you were going and what the limit is in the area.

The name and badge number of the officer will be listed on the ticket, but it can sometimes be unreadable, especially if they have bad handwriting. Be sure to ask them for this information and write it down for yourself, as you will need it for when you go to court. You will also need to ask them detailed and specific questions about the device they used to determine your speed or other infraction and where they were located. For speeding, check for clearly marked signs; if there are none then be sure to take videos or pictures to further prove your case in court.

The officer may come to the conclusion that because you are being so thorough with your questions, that the case may get dismissed, and it is not worth the effort of showing up in court. They do not get paid for court dates and hearings, and many of them would rather be spending time with loved ones or friends anyway. If they do not appear, your case is automatically dismissed.

Your case can still be won, though, even if the officer does show up. The judge may consider all of your evidence and dismiss the case altogether or lessen the fine that you must pay. For more serious offenses, it may be worthwhile hiring an attorney. There are also companies that are comprised of former police officers that give you advice and tips on how to proceed in court. You will have to decide for yourself if spending money on this type of assistance is needed.

Knowledge is power, and gathering every detail possible is paramount to proving your case, whether or not you hire anyone to help you. Immediately after receiving your ticket, file a motion of discovery. This will let you know exactly what you are being charged with, and what type of evidence will be used against you.

Volunteering for traffic school may also be a way for you to get your offense lessened or dismissed completely. Not all areas offer this, so be sure to check with your local jurisdiction. There is a great benefit to receiving a refresher course and can help to prevent future tickets and fines. Knowing how to fight a traffic ticket could be as simple as preventing one in the first place. Fight your Florida Traffic Ticket now, 954-967-9888 http://www.TrafficTicketTeam.com

Things You Must Know to Fight a Traffic Ticket

Every driver has dealt with the unpleasantness of receiving a traffic ticket at least once. One moment you are cruising down the highway and the next moment you see those dreaded flashing lights behind you telling you to pull over. One small infraction shouldn’t taint your driving record or hike up your insurance rates. If you learn how to fight a traffic ticket, you can keep your driving record clean and keep your hard earned money where it belongs – in your pocket.

When you get pulled over, always remember to be respectful and courteous to the officer. Sarcastic remarks or arguing will not be received well and may actually get you into even more trouble. Be sure to answer the officer’s questions directly, and don’t elaborate on them. Never get out of your car unless the officer asks you to, as this could be seen as a sign of aggression.

Do not openly admit your guilt or try to think of outlandish stories or excuses for your behavior. Reply with a simple, “No, Sir” or “No, Ma’am” when the officer asks if you know why they pulled you over. It is their responsibility to explain what the offense is, and they should do it in as much detail as possible. If you were speeding, make sure they let you know how fast you were going, and how much above the speed limit that is.

If you are going to court, you will need to know the name of the officer and their badge number. This is written on the ticket but is sometimes illegible, so be sure to ask. For a speeding infraction, ask the officer about the device that was used and where they were located when they determined that you were going too fast. Check that area for clearly marked speed limit signs. If there are none, take pictures so that you have further evidence for your court hearing.

When you ask very specific questions, it can sometimes lead the officer to believe that it’s not worth the effort of showing up to the court date. If they think that you will gather enough evidence they may conclude that your ticket will get thrown out or the charge will be lessened anyway. Officers have to appear in court on their day off, and many would rather be with their family or out on the driving range. Your case will be automatically dismissed if the officer does not appear.

You can still win, however, even if the officer does make an appearance, especially if it is your first offense, or it is deemed as a minor one. You can get the charge completely thrown out, or the fine may be reduced. If it is a more serious infraction, you may want to consider hiring an attorney. Companies such as X-Coppers are run by former police officers and can help give you tips and strategies on how to win your case. You will have to determine whether or not it is worth spending the extra money on this kind of help.

You will need to be prepared for your court case, whether you hire a lawyer or not. Prepare your statement to the judge well in advance and gather as much information as possible. A motion of discovery should be filed as soon as your ticket is received, as this is your right to know exactly what you are being charged with and what kind of evidence will be presented. Knowledge beforehand is key in order to defend yourself effectively.

Some jurisdictions offer traffic school as an option, instead of being convicted with an offense. Check your local area to see if this is a viable choice. It is always a good plan to voluntarily sign up for a refresher course and will help to prevent further tickets and fines. Not getting a ticket in the first place is the best strategy in learning how to fight a traffic ticket. Call the Traffic Ticket Team now, 954-967-9888 http://www.TrafficTicketTeam.com

Any Drugs While Driving Can Get You Arrested

Whether it’s cold medicine, cough syrup, a legal prescription drug or alcohol, if you ingest too much and drive a vehicle, you can be charged with driving under the influence. “Even if someone is taking prescription drugs legally, they can be charged with DUI,” said Sgt. Kim Montes, spokeswoman for the Florida Highway Patrol district that includes Volusia County. “If a trooper evaluates someone, either on a traffic stop or at a crash scene, and determines they are impaired from alcohol, illegal or legal drugs, or another substance, they can be arrested.” The FHP recently charged a man with DUI manslaughter in an Orlando case because they believe he had inhaled computer cleaner, Montes said. Toxicology reports, which reveal the presence of substances in the blood that can lead to impairment, can take several months to complete, said FHP Lt. Bill Leeper. He noted authorities are awaiting toxicology results in at least one Flagler County crash involving serious injuries. The Friends Drive Sober organization devotes a section of its website to prescription and over-the-counter drugs and their effect on drivers. “Drugs impair our bodies in a variety of ways,” the site reads. “They may blur our vision; make us tired or too excited; alter depth perception; make us see or hear things that may not be there; raise or lower blood pressure; react too quickly, too slowly, or not at all. They cause problems with concentrating on the task at hand.”  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention specifically lists cough and cold medications containing dextromethorphan as one of the most commonly misused over-the-counter drugs, “to get high.” “The pivotal issue when it comes to controlled substances is impairment,” said Chris Kelly, spokesman for the State Attorney’s Office. The short answer, he said, as to whether a person is guilty of driving under the influence depends on two things: the impaired individual is in control of the vehicle and, per state statute, “that the person’s normal faculties are impaired.” It’s up to the discretion of law enforcement to determine whether a driver should undergo testing and whether a breath or blood test is requested. “If we have an idea of what types of drugs they may be taking, then we can ask for that drug to be specifically tested,” Montes said. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement runs a panel for all controlled substances when blood is drawn, said spokeswoman Susie Murphy. “We don’t typically test for huffing (inhaled) agents,” Murphy said. “We don’t test for over-the-counter drugs at all.” But that doesn’t mean a person can’t be charged with DUI for taking over-the-counter medication.  “If someone were to ingest enough over-the-counter medicine, they could also be arrested forDUI if it is determined that they are impaired,” Montes said. So if you get in a situation you need legal help, please call the Traffic Ticket Team at 954-967-9888 or go to our site, www.TrafficTicketTeam.com Diamond, Kistner & Diamond, P.A.

How Points Work on Your License

www.trafficticketteam.com

Traffic Ticket Team McLovin

The most common civil traffic citation given by law enforcement around the state is for the offense of speeding. In 2007, there were 1.3 million speeding tickets issued by police in the State of Florida. That number is not a true reflection on the real number of speeding tickets, because law enforcement has the discretion to “cut someone a break” and charge them with violating the speed limit sign. That violation is referred to as violation of a traffic control device, and it is possible that the number of speeding tickets would be closer to 1.8 million. Given those unbelievable numbers in the Florida, Speeding tickets can be divided in to 3 distinct categories as far as punishment is concerned.

1) 15 MPH OR LESS OVER THE LAWFUL OR POSTED SPEED

Receiving a citation for going 15mph or less over the speed limit carries with it a fine along with 3 points on your license. The amount of fine is usually listed on the back of the ticket and is actually set by each individual county. The points will stay on your license for 3 years and the ticket will be on your driving record forever. Depending on your insurance company it could also result in an insurance increase. No court date is required if your citation fits within this category. You can either pay it and get the points, do traffic school if eligible, or contact our office immediately to obtain information on fighting it.

2) 16 MPH OR MORE OVER THE LAWFUL OR POSTED SPEED

Receiving a citation for going 16mph or more over the speed limit carries with it a specific fine along with 4 points going on your license. The amount of fine is usually listed on the back of the ticket or you can visit a website that lists every clerk’s office. Then just look in the upper left hand corner of your citation and find the county in which you received the citation. The points will stay on your license for 3 years and the ticket will stay on your record forever. Depending on your insurance company it could also result in your insurance costs increasing. No court date is required.

3) 30 MPH OR MORE OVER THE LAWFUL OR POSTED SPEED

This is the 2nd most serious type of speeding citation you can receive. If you receive a citation for going 30mph over the posted speed limit, it carries with it a fine, possibility of 4 points on your license, possibility of a license suspense, and a mandatory court date. The amount of fine is set by the Judge at the court hearing. The points will stay on your license for 3 years and the ticket will stay on your record forever. Depending on your insurance company it could also result in your insurance costs increasing. Failing to appear at your court date could result in your license being suspended. This is referred to a D-6 suspension.

4) 50 MPH OR MORE OVER THE SPEED LIMIT-STATUTE 316.1926

Beginning October 1, 2008, the Florida legislature passed a new speeding bill. If you are charged with driving 50 MPH over the posted speed limit pursuant to Florida statute 316.1926, you will be facing a civil penalty of $1000.00. On a second offense, the fine is up to $2500.00 and the court will revoke your license for a period of one year. On a third offense you will be charged with a third degree felony and will face a fine up to $5000.00 and the loss of your driver’s license for 10 years.

Regardless of which type of ticket you receive we do not recommend just paying the ticket before contacting our office to go over possible defenses. Often we are able to get the ticket dismissed or keep the points off your license, which normally will save your insurance costs from increasing. **In addition you will not have to attend your court date, we will attend it for you. So call the Traffic Ticket Team now. 954-967-9888 http://www.TrafficTicketTeam.com

**each insurance company is different, contact your carrier to discuss how receiving a ticket will affect you.

 

Speeding Cameras. What’s Next!

Traffic Ticket Team

Traffic Ticket Team Fight Back

Everyone knows that speed cameras work. They create the discipline of a lissom lady in leather and make sure everyone understands just what the rules are. In fact, some people are so in awe of speed cameras’ discipline that they develop speed camera phobia and try to steer clear of them whenever possible. This being a troubled world, there are those who believe that these marvels of technology are merely there to make money for local authorities. So what can these troubled people say to the fact that Arizona has removed their cameras because it couldn’t make them pay? Well, they could say that Arizonans simply weren’t too keen on paying their tickets. Now, though, speed camera technology is going a little further. My heart began to chug beyond all speed limits when I read  that there are new speed cameras, ones that don’t merely check your speed. This astounding conjunction of art, technology, and justice–known as Asset (Advanced Safety and Driver Support for Essential Road Transport)–is so packed with gizmos that it can discover you are breaking a multitude of laws all at the same time. Yes, Asset can check whether you’re insured, whether you’re wearing your seat belt, whether you’re too close to the car  in front. It can even check whether your hands are in the correct 3:40pm position currently recommended in many states. Oh, I’m not entirely sure about that last one. But I am sure your veins are already pulsating at the idea of a speed camera that could, potentially, issue three or four tickets to you at once. Asset is currently being tested in Finland. So one can only wonder whether these speed cameras will be able to detect alcohol levels emerging with drivers’ breath, as Finland has a long and interesting history with alcohol consumption.The Asset mechanism is really quite simple. It takes a multitude of pictures and wafts them back by satellite to a large central database. Think of it as a real-time Google search of your car. The Mail suggests that these fine machines–you know, machines that issue fines–will be in service across Europe by 2013. I know that many who live outside of Europe’s confines will already be booking their trips in anticipation of such a large and speedy step forward for civilization. But if you get a traffic ticket in Florida, call the Traffic Ticket Team to Fight Back for you. Our attorneys have handled over one million traffic tickets. So don’t hire a random ticket clinic lawyer, hire a Team. That is, call the Traffic Ticket Team, 954-967-9888

 

 

She Wears Short Shorts… He Wears Baggy Shorts…

Traffic Ticket Team

If you’re headed to traffic court in California better leave the flip-flops at home. Have a court appearance in district court in Inkster, Mich.? Jeans are on the not-to-wear list. And don’t even think of wearing short shorts to court in Dover, Del. Judges in those jurisdictions and others across the USA are cracking down on skimpy, sloppy or what they consider inappropriate attire in an effort to maintain decorum and beef up security.  A provision in Delaware  that bars skirts shorter than 4 inches above the knee when standing “sounds like Catholic school,” says Timothy Fautsko, who advises courts on security issues for the National Center for State Courts. But, he says, the dress codes serve a purpose.

“I think it maintains order in the courtroom,” he says. Fautsko says some people seem determined to push the fashion envelope. “I had a report of one court that had an individual keep coming into court dressed like a clown,” he says. “Again, that pushes the dignity of the court.” Courts are a place where serious business is conducted, and that demands appropriate attire, says Delaware Superior Court Judge William Witham Jr. “We’re not out to treat people as school kids, but we do expect if you come to court, you need to treat it with the appropriate respect and dignity it should deserve due to the occasion,” he says. Among recent examples:

• In May, Jennifer LaPenta was jailed briefly after a judge in Lake County, Ill., held her in contempt for wearing an offensive T-shirt to court.

• In Inkster, Mich., Joseph Kassab was turned away in April from the courtroom for wearing black jeans. He missed his traffic court appearance and was fined, and he’s challenging the dress code in the state Court of Appeals.

• The same thing happened to Linda West, who missed her court date after being refused entry in June to court in Bakersfield, Calif., for wearing flip-flops.

• In July, in Hamilton County (Ohio) Municipal Court, William Morse’s T-shirt featuring slasher-movie character Chucky and the words “Say goodbye to the killer” earned Morse a warning that he’d spend a day in jail if he came to court again with inappropriate attire.

Though some attire may seem obvious choices to ban, other clothing can be a tougher call — and barring some attire can raise troubling questions about race, religion and access to justice, legal experts say. “It would seem inappropriate to have the security officers be the determiner unless it’s a safety issue … especially when the result could be they miss their court appearance and are subject to a penalty. That would be questionable,” says Micah J. Yarbrough, a professor at Widener University School of Law. Many dress codes single out baggy pants, particularly those that expose undergarments. That fashion began in the African-American community, says Holly Alford, an assistant professor in the department of fashion design and merchandising at Virginia Commonwealth University. Banning such attire is “almost like you’re making racial statements without actually saying it,” says Alford — who admits she pesters her son daily to pull up his pants. Fautsko says an increasing numbers of courts are adopting dress codes, and for security reasons some specify that faces be uncovered, posing problems for Muslim women wearing veils or burqas. That issue has come to the fore among judges and security personnel in the past six months, he says, adding that courts are “seeking some definitive direction on what to do, and what to do in a uniform manner, so it’s not different from court to court.”

A spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, says courts can follow the lead of the Transportation Security Administration and have a female officer take a Muslim woman to a private setting where she can remove her face covering. “There should be no issue for anyone entering a court with either a face veil or a head scarf,” Hooper says. Dress codes can play a role in public safety. For instance, gang-related clothing or gang colors could be used to intimidate witnesses in criminal cases. Dress codes pose few problems for defense attorneys, according to Brendan O’Neill, Delaware’s chief public defender. Most lawyers customarily advise clients about proper attire, he says, and many will supply garments to indigent clients. Gayle V. Fischer, a professor at Salem State University, has written extensively on the history of clothing and society. In her view, court dress codes are the product of a casual society and ignorance of court culture.A pajama-clad woman who was turned away from court in Delaware “probably wears that outfit to the grocery store,” Fischer says. “Dressing up, that’s something that you’re taught, and if you don’t live or participate in any of the arenas where you need to dress up, you probably just don’t think about it.

If you get caught speeding, you should call the Traffic Ticket Team, http://www.trafficticketteam.com, to fight your Florida Traffic Ticket. If you get a traffic ticket for anything, speeding, red light, DUI or anything else, call us anytime to fight your traffic ticket at 954-967-9888, Law Offices of Jason A. Diamond, P.A. and Diamond, Kistner & Diamond.

Be Prepared to Wait for Your License.

Traffic Ticket Team

Traffic Ticket Team

With a drastic cut in Clerk of Court funding, here is what you can expect the next time you go to renew your drivers license.

Broward County
Lauderdale Lakes; 5,723; 11 min 3 sec; 35 min 23 sec; 16
Fort Lauderdale; 4,988; 8 min 53 sec; 48 min 33 sec; 10
Lauderhill Oakbrook; 4,655; 10 min 3 sec; 56 min 46 sec; 11
Pompano Beach; 3,185; 7 min 34 sec; 28 min 6 sec; 8
Deerfield Beach; 4,339; 50 min 5 sec; 141 min 6 sec; 12
Margate; 3,787; 8 min 36 sec; 22 min 57 sec; 11
Pembroke Pines; 8,055; 9 min 33 sec; 48 min 59 sec; 17
Palm Beach County
West Palm Beach; 5,878; 9 min 1 sec; 52 min 45 sec; 19
Delray Beach*; 6,505; 11 min 13 sec; 66 min 13 sec; 9
Lantana; 5,006; 9 min 18 sec; 53 min 38 sec; 8
Palm Beach Gardens; 5,215; 8 min 52 sec; 16 min 59 sec; 10

Note: Average wait times do not include time spent standing outside the office waiting to get in.

If you get caught speeding, you should call the Traffic Ticket Team, http://www.trafficticketteam.com, to fight your Florida Traffic Ticket. If you get a traffic ticket for anything, speeding, red light, DUI or anything else, call us anytime to fight your traffic ticket at 954-967-9888, Law Offices of Jason A. Diamond, P.A. and Diamond, Kistner & Diamond.

Published in: on August 22, 2010 at 2:32 pm  Comments Off on Be Prepared to Wait for Your License.  
Tags: , , , , , ,

Sunrise Cops Have a Traffic Ticket Quota…

Traffic Ticket Team

Sunrise cops are expected to make a minimum of 45,612 traffic stops a year. (Michael Francis McElroy, Sun Sentinel /August 20, 2010)

Sunrise road patrol officers are expected to make at least three traffic stops a day, according to a complaint form on the officer filed in May. That means the city’s 84 road patrol officers have to make at least 45,864 stops a year, about half the city’s population.With Sunrise home to Sawgrass Mills  mall, a top tourist destination in South Florida, folks from all over are at risk of being pulled over and given a ticket. What it could cost you, on average: $200.

“The public thinks it’s a gotcha game and they are going to get you if they have to meet that quota,” said Bob Jarvis, a law professor at Nova Law School in Davie. Officers who meet the quota — referred to as “shift standards” by department brass — are in line for promotions, special assignments and raises, say union officials. Those who don’t risk a written reprimand, they say. The Sunrise police union does not condone quotas of any kind, said Roger Krege, union president.The officers making the traffic stops are “just following orders,” Krege said. Officers need to be able to make decisions without “external influences” from supervisors who demand a set number of stops per day. Chief John Brooks, who joined the department in June 2007, denied having a quota.”I don’t have a ticket quota and I don’t have an arrest quota,” Brooks said. “It’s not illegal, but it’s unethical.”

Capt. Robert Voss, who oversees the department’s road patrol officers, says supervisors need some way to measure performance. The number of daily traffic stops an officer makes helps gauge productivity, Voss said. “Those are guidelines for them to follow,” Voss said. “We have to have a way to measure what an officer is doing out there. The officers are making a lot of money. We want to make sure they’re working.” The standards apply only to the officers assigned to road patrol, Voss said, not to the department’s entire 172-member force.

Mayor Roger Wishner characterized the three-stops-a-day rule as community policing, where officers focus on certain neighborhoods to help reduce traffic accidents. “I don’t support a quota system, but I do want our officers out there enforcing traffic laws,” Wishner said. Deputy Mayor Sheila Alu also backs Brooks’ rule, in effect since July 2008. “I think he’s trying to keep the officers accountable,” Alu said. “He wants to make sure the officers are doing their jobs and performing.” From October 2008 through September 2009, Sunrise collected $431,200 in traffic fines and court costs, city records show. Sunrise has collected $352,000 in ticket money from October 2009 through early August.  In addition to the traffic stops, Sunrise officers are required to make three “Field Interrogation Card” reports each month — or 3,024 every year. Officers use the FIC reports to document suspicious activity — and to prove they are working, Sunrise police officials say. One officer has Voss wondering just what he could be doing his entire 11.5-hour shift. Bruce Charlton, a 21-year veteran who works the day shift, has been written up three times this year for failing to meet shift standards. In February, he had one traffic stop and no FI cards. In March, he had no traffic stops and one FI card. In April, he made seven traffic stops and wrote one FIC report. “I have personally given verbal warnings to Officer Charlton and have placed notes and copies of his stats in his shift file regarding his lack of productivity,” Sgt. Mark Hudson wrote in a May 17 complaint on the officer. “By failing to heed repeated supervisor warnings, Officer Charlton remains in violation of Department Policy and Procedure. Technically, Charlton was written up for disobeying an order. The order: To make more traffic stops and write more FI Cards. Charlton, 41, said this in his defense: “We have over 200 different responsibilities to perform during our shift and it’s not fair to the public’s safety or officers’ safety to pigeonhole our performance solely on traffic stops and FI Cards.

The other officers have to neglect their other duties for fear of discipline if they don’t meet the shift standards.” Traffic quotas may not be illegal in Florida but they are frowned on, said Bob Dekle, a law professor at the UF, “The problem you get into with quotas, every stop is open to public criticism,” he said. “The accusation is, ‘You did it because you had a quota to make, not because the person was doing something wrong.’ That’s why quotas are a bad idea.”  On the other hand, Dekle said he understands the dilemma for supervisors who want to make sure the rank and file are not sleeping on the job. “It shouldn’t be too hard for officers to make three traffic stops a day and three field interrogations a month,” Dekle said. “If the officer is not doing that, you have to wonder what he is doing.” Officials with the Broward Sheriff’s Office say the agency does not have quotas. The Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood police departments say the same. Fort Lauderdale does require its officers to meet “performance standards” to measure productivity, Sgt. Frank Sousa said. Officers are evaluated on the quantity of their work, but are not required to “write five tickets a day or make three arrests,” Sousa said. Nor are they required to conduct a set number of traffic stops or “Field Interrogation Cards,” he said. The Sun Sentinel reviewed 287 FI Cards written by Sunrise officers between June 19 and July 19. Subjects were questioned for many reasons — loitering, walking home, driving around “aimlessly,” sitting in a parked car at a shopping center after hours. Will Carrasco, a Plantation resident questioned by Sunrise police in June, was not surprised to hear of the shift standards.”It sounds like a quota to me,” Carrasco said. Carrasco, 27, and his brother-in-law were camped out in his car outside Sawgrass Mills about 3:30 a.m. June 19, hoping to be first in line to buy a new Jordan sneaker. “Three cops came up and said ‘What are you doing here?'” Carrasco recounted. “We were sitting in the car with snacks and water, minding our own business. I can’t really blame them. But I think sometimes they overdo it. Three of them showed up.”

If you get caught speeding, you should call the Traffic Ticket Team, http://www.trafficticketteam.com, to fight your Florida Traffic Ticket. If you get a traffic ticket for anything, speeding, red light, DUI or anything else, call us anytime to fight your traffic ticket at 954-967-9888, Law Offices of Jason A. Diamond, P.A. and Diamond, Kistner & Diamond.