Pulled Over, Do I Have to Allow a Search?

Often, when a police officer pulls you over, he has his mind make up that you have done something wrong. Once the stop has been made, all interactions between you and the officer from that point forward are meant to help the officer gather evidence to prove that his theory of your wrongdoing is legitimate.

One way that the police will work to gather evidence against you during a traffic stop is to ask to search your vehicle. Obviously, this step doesn’t happen for every single traffic stop but, for the ones that it does happen for, there are some steps that you can take to protect your rights.

There are two ways for an officer to gain entry to your vehicle and be allowed to search: either you give permission when they ask or, they have probable cause that the vehicle contains drugs, weapons, or some other form of illegal contraband.

While there is not much that can be done in a probable cause situation (fighting these searches happens in the courtroom), there are some things that you can do when an officer asks your permission to search your vehicle:

  • You don’t have to say yes to avoid looking guilty. Even if your car does contain illegal contraband, you don’t have to give permission to the officer in an effort to look less guilty. In fact, you can politely tell the officer “No” when they ask your permission to search the vehicle. If they cannot see any contraband in plain view, then they do not have probable cause to search and, they have to respect that you have not given them permission
  • If you are placed under arrest, you still do not have to give them permission to search. In some cases, the officer will have probable cause to place you under arrest for various actions that occurred during the stop. However, being under arrest does not mean that you must give permission for a search of your vehicle. You can continue to refuse to give permission when asked.
  • You always have the right to remain silent and it is best that you exercise that right. You do not have to elaborate or explain to the police about why you are refusing to give permission. You can just say “No” and, leave it at that. If you are placed under arrest, it is always a good idea to ask for an attorney right away.

Being pulled over and investigated on the side of the road by the police can be scary and overwhelming. Whether you have illegal contraband in your vehicle or not, you still have rights and you can refuse to give permission to search. Make sure to follow these tips for protecting yourself and minimizing the damage.

If you have been charged with a crime in Fort Lauderdale and need an experienced and dedicated Criminal Defense Attorney contact our office today for a free consultation.

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