Last week, we discussed the extremely high-profile DUI arrest of pop star Justin Bieber. In an interesting turn of events, it has since been reported that a South Florida police officer is now under investigation for reportedly trying to take a photograph of Bieber while he was in police custody.
According to the Associated Press, Miami Beach police Sgt. Bobby Hernandez has confirmed reports of this investigation. Few details of that investigation have been released to the public. This is a reminder, however, that the police do not always respect the rights of citizens who are suspected of drunk driving, and this does not only apply to celebrities.
In addition to this investigation, other news outlets have reported information that seems to cast suspicion over whether the police may have violated Bieber's rights.
The Miami Beach police reported that they stopped Bieber and another driver because they were drag racing, driving at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour. TMZ has cited the GPS records of the rented vehicle Bieber was driving, and these records show that Bieber traveled no faster than 44 mph; they also suggest he was driving only 27 mph when he was in the area where police say he was drag racing.
While TMZ is not an authoritative legal source, the entertainment news organization's findings bring up another important civil rights issue. The police must have a legitimate and legal reason to stop vehicles in Florida. When police violate the rights of drivers, any evidence that is obtained illegally may later be thrown out.
Those who face DUI charges in Florida need to understand their rights in order to put forth the best defense possible.
Source: Associated Press, "Fla. police investigate officer who tried to photograph Justin Bieber in custody," Jan. 31, 2014