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What To Do If a Police Officer Asks to Search Your Car

  • Birdsall Obear

Traffic stops can be nerve-racking on their own, not to mention adding a car search on top of one! If you end up in this type of situation, remember the following tips:

Be Polite

Do not escalate the situation by being insulting, rude, or problematic. There are specific questions and commands you should comply with when being pulled over, such as:

  • Handing over your license, registration, and insurance.
  • Obeying simple commands such as stepping out of the vehicle.

Keep in mind that there are certain things that police officers can do without your permission, such as:

  • Visually examine the exterior of your car to see if it is stolen or if the registered owner has any warrants out for arrest.
  • Visually examine your car's interior enough to notice things in plain sight. If they see something such as an open beer can, they have probable cause to perform a search on your vehicle.

Know Your Fourth Amendment Rights

The Fourth Amendment protects Americans from unlawful search and seizure without a warrant, probable cause, or permission. Although, it does not take much for an officer to have probable cause. For example, if you are pulled over and the officer smells alcohol or another substance, this is reason enough to search your car.

Remember This Phrase

If you only remember one thing from this blog, please remember this phrase, "I do not consent to a search of my vehicle." This simple phrase could make the difference between being charged with a crime or not. Remember, you have every right to deny the police permission to search your car. Without probable cause, you can say this phrase.

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