What Should You Do When Police Want To Search Your Vehicle?
Seeing the flashing lights and hearing the siren of a police car behind you while on the road is always scary. In the best cases, these traffic stops are very brief and only involve a short conversation. In other instances though, the stop may become much more serious and the officer may at some point tell the driver they want to search the vehicle. If you find yourself in this situation, it is critical that you know what to do and that you understand how to protect your rights.
Vehicle Searches Under the Fourth Amendment
The Fourth Amendment protects all American citizens from unlawful search and seizures. Before law enforcement searches any property, they must obtain a search warrant to do so. That protection applies to vehicles as well, but drivers may have fewer rights when an officer wants to search their vehicle. The law recognizes that drivers could easily leave the scene if the police officer had to obtain a warrant before searching the vehicle. As such, police officers must only have probable cause to search a vehicle during a traffic stop, and they do not need to obtain a warrant.
Florida law largely mirrors the Fourth Amendment and requires police officers to have probable cause before searching a vehicle during a roadside stop. Regardless of the situation, it is critical that you know what to do during a traffic stop so you can protect your rights.
What to Do if Police Want to Search Your Vehicle
Law enforcement officers often want to search a vehicle, but they may not have probable cause to do so. When this is the case, they may ask for your consent to search the vehicle. Never provide this consent. If you agree to the police searching your vehicle, it is then a lawful search and any evidence that is obtained during the search can be used against you.
You should also always produce documents such as your driver’s license, insurance policy, and registration when law enforcement asks for them. However, do not provide any more information than that. The officer may ask if you have been drinking or if you have consumed drugs. Simply ask the officer if you are under arrest and do not provide them any more information. You are not legally required to answer any of the officer’s questions and if you do, anything you say can be used against you.
Our Criminal Defense Lawyer in Tampa Bay Can Help After an Unlawful Search
If you have been charged with a crime after a search you believe was illegal, our Tampa criminal defense lawyers can help. At All Family Law Group, P.A., our skilled attorneys know how to prove a search was unlawful and get any evidence obtained as a result thrown out of court. Call us today at 813-672-1900 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about how we can help.