IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA
JANUARY TERM 2004
Case No. 5D03-2479
STATE OF FLORIDA,
Opinion filed May 28, 2004
Appeal from the Circuit Court
for Orange County,
Stan Strickland, Judge.
James B. Gibson, Public Defender, and
Anne Moorman Reeves, Assistant Public
Defender, Daytona Beach, for Appellant.
Charles J. Crist, Jr., Attorney General,
Tallahassee, and Anthony J. Golden,
Assistant Attorney General,
Daytona Beach, for Appellee.
After his Motion to Suppress was denied, Appellant pled guilty to trafficking in the
cocaine found in his vehicle. He contends that a deputy sheriff improperly stopped his vehicle,
improperly detained him after the stop, and that the ensuing search of his vehicle was tainted
by the improper stop and detention. We disagree and affirm.
The deputy sheriff, while patrolling the Florida Turnpike, observed Appellant cross the
“fog line”1 on three occasions within a mile. Each time, the vehicle crossed the line by
approximately one-half of its width. Believing that the operator might be impaired, sick or
tired, the deputy stopped Appellant’s vehicle. He observed that Appellant had the odor of
alcohol on his breath and appeared nervous. Thereafter, the deputy summoned a drug-sniffing
dog. The dog detected that drugs were in the vehicle. A subsequent search of the vehicle
Appellant challenges both the initial stop and his subsequent detention. He alleges that
the initial stop was improper because crossing the fog line three times, without endangering
anyone, neither violates the single lane statute nor otherwise provides reasonable suspicion
to justify a police stop. Appellant further contends that, after the initial stop, the deputy
delayed the detention for an unreasonable length of time to give the drug-sniffing dog time to
arrive and sniff Appellant’s car.
In support of his first contention, Appellant relies on Jordan v. State, 831 So. 2d 1241
(Fla. 5th DCA 2002), and Crooks v. State, 710 So. 2d 1041 (Fla. 2d DCA 1998). However,
Jordan and Crooks are distinguished. The relevant statute relating to the operation of a
vehicle within a lane states in pertinent part as follows:
A vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practicable entirely within
a single lane and shall not be moved from such lane until the
driver has first ascertained that such movement can be made
§316.089(1), Fla. Stat. (2002) (emphasis supplied). Unlike Jordan and Crooks, here there
The white line on the right-hand side of the road.
was evidence that Appellant deviated from his lane by more than what was practicable. To do
so is a violation of the statute, irrespective of whether anyone is endangered. Furthermore,
unlike Jordan and Crooks, here evidence was adduced that Appellant’s abnormal driving
caused the deputy to suspect that Appellant was impaired or otherwise unfit to drive. We think
his suspicion was well-founded, thereby justifying the stop, even in the absence of a traffic
violation. See Esteen v. State, 503 So.2d 356 (Fla. 5th DCA 1987) (weaving within lane and
driving slower than posted speed justified stop based on reasonable suspicion of impairment,
unfitness or vehicle defects, even absent a traffic violation); State v. Carrillo, 506 So. 2d 495
(Fla. 5th DCA 1987) (weaving within lane five times within one-quarter mile sufficient to
establish reasonable suspicion of impairment); Roberts v. State, 732 So. 2d 1127 (Fla. 4th
DCA 1999) (weaving several times sufficient to justify stop); State v. Davidson, 744 So. 2d
1180 (Fla. 2d DCA 1999) (evidence of abnormal driving, albeit not amounting to a traffic
violation, justified stop based on reasonable suspicion of impairment); State v DeShong, 603
So. 2d 1349 (Fla. 2d DCA 1992) (using lane as “marker” to position vehicle and slowing to
30 miles per hour sufficient to justify stop based on suspicion of impairment or defects in
As to Appellant’s second point, we conclude that Appellant has failed to demonstrate
that the trial judge abused his discretion in determining that the stop was not extended for an
unreasonable length of time. See Maxwell v. State, 785 So. 2d 1277 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001).
THOMPSON and ORFINGER, JJ., concur.