Should You Consent to a Vehicle Search?
If police pull you over for a suspected DUI or another crime, they may want to search your vehicle. During a search, they will look for evidence they can use against you and that will give them probable cause to arrest you. Before conducting a search, a police officer will likely ask you if they can search the vehicle. In most cases, you should never consent, but you should also still allow an officer to conduct a search if they proceed anyway.
When Can Police Search Your Vehicle?
Law enforcement cannot simply pull over any vehicle they want and search it. In fact, police officers can only search a vehicle in very specific situations. The first is if they have obtained a warrant, as required under the Fourth Amendment.
The second situation in which police can search your vehicle is if they have probable cause that you have committed a crime. For example, police are not required to obtain a search warrant if they pull you over for a suspected DUI because you could leave the scene by the time they obtained the warrant and came back. If, after pulling you over, the police further suspect that you are driving under the influence, they may search your vehicle.
Lastly, law enforcement can search your vehicle if you provide your consent, even if they do not have probable cause that you committed a crime. Generally speaking, you should never give consent for police to search your vehicle. If you do, there is a chance they will find evidence to use against you, even if you did nothing wrong. If you do not give consent and police start to search the vehicle anyway, do not stand in their way.
When Do You Not Need to Give Consent?
There are times when police do not need consent in order to search your vehicle. If you are involved in an accident and when law enforcement arrives on the scene, they can search your vehicle even if you do not consent.
Additionally, if your vehicle is impounded, law enforcement can also search the entire vehicle and anything in it. For example, if police impounded your vehicle and there was a locked box in your trunk, law enforcement could force it open to search inside, even if you did not consent.
Lastly, law enforcement can also search your vehicle if they believe you have a weapon inside that you will use against them during the stop.
Our Criminal Defense Lawyer in Orlando Can Determine if a Search is Legal
Determining if a search was legal is never easy, particularly for those unfamiliar with the law. At O’Mara Law Group, our Orlando criminal defense lawyer has the necessary experience to prove when a search was illegal and get important evidence against you thrown out to give you the best chance of beating the charges. Call us today at 407-634-6604 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation and to learn more about how we can help.