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Teamer v. State (1st District Court of Appeals December 21st, 2012.)

A Deputy observed a bright green Chevy. The deputy “ran” the license plate tag number through the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles which came up registered to a blue Chevy.  The deputy pulled the vehicle over based only on the color inconsistency. Upon interviewing the occupants, the deputy learned that the vehicle had recently been painted, thus explaining the inconsistency. During the stop, however, the deputy smelled marijuana emanating from the car and conducted a search of appellant, his passenger, and the vehicle. Marijuana and crack cocaine were recovered from the vehicle, and about $1,100 in cash was recovered from appellant. Appellant was charged with trafficking in cocaine (between 28–200 grams), possession of marijuana (less than 20 grams), and possession of drug paraphernalia, scales.


On appeal, the Court held that the mere fact that the color of a vehicle does not match the color indicated on motor vehicle registration records does not establish a reasonable, articulable suspicion of criminal activity to support an investigatory stop of a vehicle. This is particularly true in Florida where there is no legal requirement that a vehicle owner inform the DHSMV of a change in the color of the vehicle.

This Court disagreed with the Aders court(this is the decision that remains law in Palm Beach County) that a color discrepancy alone warrants an investigatory stop and, therefore, certify conflict with the Fourth District's opinion in Aders v. State,67 So.2d 368 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011). The lower court's judgment and sentence were reversed, and the case was remanded to the trial court for appellant to be discharged.

We shall see what happens next.  The State can appeal this to the Florida Supreme Court to resolve the conflict between our (the 4th District) and this decision.  Stay tuned.