In the early morning of October 11, 2011, Florida Highway Patrol Officer Donna Watts, pulled over Miami-Dade County Police Officer Fausto Lopez for driving in excess of 120 MPH and subsequently arrested Lopez. Officer Lopez’s actions resulted in a criminal charge of reckless driving, which is a second degree misdemeanor and carries a penalty of either imprisonment of no more than 90 days or a fine of no less than $25 and no more than $500, or both imprisonment and fine. In this case, Mr. Lopez’s actions may be deemed reckless not only because he was driving at an excessive speed and weaving in and out of traffic but he may be also deemed to have been eluding a police officer. Under Florida law, fleeing a law enforcement officer in a motor vehicle is reckless driving per se.
More interesting than Officer Lopez being stopped is Officer Lopez’s reasoning for driving in the manner he was driving on the Morning of the 11th. Officer Lopez was not on duty and was not responding to official Miami-Dade County Police business, instead Officer Lopez was simply on his way to an off-duty job. Officer Lopez was not acting in his capacity as an enforcer of the law, he became just another one of the thousands of people in Florida who are pulled over for violating a traffic law. In my opinion, controversial as this stop may seem, Officer Watts was enforcing the law in the manner she saw fit; there was a vehicle driving erratically, in excess of 100 MPH, not stopping for a police officer, whom she deemed was breaking the law. It just so happened that the driver was an off-duty cop and he was driving a police cruiser.