Getting pulled over by a police officer is nerve-wracking. But what about when it goes beyond just a speeding ticket and the officer wants to search your vehicle?
Your first instinct may be to let the police officer do what he wants and to search your car, but you will want to rethink that.
“This is when you have to remember your American history and the U.S. Constitution. The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government, which includes law enforcement officers,” says Thomas Bumgardner, an attorney with the Law Office of Thomas D. Bumgardner, PLLC. “Anything that is gathered during an unlawful search can’t be used in court.”
But there are circumstances where an officer does have a right to search your vehicle in Charlotte. Our law office wants you to understand your rights and the officer’s rights so everyone stays safe.
What do I say if an officer wants to search my car?
You should always politely refuse for an officer to search your vehicle. The police officer may ask several times to search and you should continue to decline. It’s also important to note that refusing a search of your car is not an admission of guilt.
If the officer does search your car without your consent, without probable cause or without a search warrant, then anything found inside your vehicle can’t be admitted in court.
What kind of “probable cause” allows an officer to search a vehicle?
The definition of probable cause is “sufficient reason based upon known facts to believe a crime has been committed or that certain property is connected with a crime.”
Reasons for probable cause include:
- The officer sees a weapon in plain view
- The officer sees drugs in plain view
- The officer smells alcohol or drugs
- The officer has placed you under arrest and the search is related to the arrest
Should I let them search my vehicle if I have nothing to hide?
You should still refuse a vehicle search.
There is a good possibility that officers could damage your car while searching for any possible hidden compartments. They could also find something illegal in your car that belongs to a family or friend, but you will have to take the fall for it.
Plus, during the search, you will be handcuffed for officer safety reasons. You want to avoid being handcuffed while onlookers drive by you.
One of the most important things is to try to stay calm, quiet and be polite to the officer. In these situations, it can be easy to become erratic and upset, but try to resist those emotions.
Remember to always refuse the search, unless the officer finds probable cause and has a search warrant.
If you find yourself in trouble with the law when it comes to traffic violations or DWI, you can count on The Law Office of Thomas D. Bumgardner, PLLC to help you with the legal process. We understand state traffic regulations and we will be there to defend your rights. You can schedule a consultation or give us a call at 704-887-4981.