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Can police search your vehicle during a traffic stop?

On Behalf of | Sep 1, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

If the police have ever pulled you over, you know that feeling of dread. It’s natural to feel anxious since there’s always the potential for things to take an unexpected turn, such as the police asking to search your vehicle.

It’s vital that you know your rights so you can protect yourself if you ever find yourself in this situation.

The Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments

Some people may already be familiar with the Fourth Amendment and its role in vehicle searches. It protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. In other words, in most cases, the police need a search warrant before searching your vehicle.

The Fourteenth Amendment also protects your rights by guaranteeing equal protection. This means that police officers can’t selectively enforce laws because of someone’s race, ethnicity, or other protected individuals. Furthermore, they are not allowed to use excessive force.

There are some situations when police officers can search your vehicle, such as:

  • You give them consent for the search. However, permission must be freely given and not due to coercion.
  • If the police reasonably believe that a crime has, or is being committed, also known as probable cause.
  • If you are arrested, police can search your vehicle for evidence in relation to the arrest.
  • The police are allowed to search your vehicle if it’s impounded.

If you are pulled over, and the police want to search your vehicle, you don’t need to give them consent. If they search your car anyway, be calm and polite and remain silent. Afterward, discuss your situation with someone who will advocate for your rights.