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Can the police go through your vehicle?

On Behalf of | Jul 18, 2022 | Criminal Defense

During a traffic stop, one of the things you should watch out for is a police officer who is attempting to get into your vehicle. They might ask you nicely if they can take a look inside your vehicle or if you have anything in the vehicle that you’d like them to get for you if you’re already outside of it.

Be cautious. The police generally do not have the right to go through your vehicle or inspect it internally unless you give them permission or they have a warrant. Rarely, they may have probably cause to get into the vehicle, such as if they hear something unusual in the trunk or a drug dog alerts them to the scent of drugs inside.

If an officer asks you to let them into your vehicle, you can refuse

In most cases, you’re able to refuse to allow the officer into your vehicle. For example, if they have just pulled you over and are talking to you, they might ask if you’re willing to step out and let them look in the back seat. They might also just have a conversation with you to see if you’d suggest allowing them to look inside. For example, saying, “hey, if you don’t believe me, you can look…” would technically give the police permission to look inside your vehicle.

Why don’t you want to give the police permission to search your vehicle?

There is no reason that you should give the police permission to search your vehicle. This is your private property, so unless the officer has probable cause or a warrant, they don’t need to be searching through your vehicle at all.

Giving them permission sets you up for problems. They could claim they found something in your vehicle that you didn’t even know about, but you could then face penalties as a result. If you have other people ride with you, you can never be sure that your vehicle is totally free of anything incriminating, so why take the risk?

Do everything you can to protect yourself. That includes refusing unreasonable searches of your property.

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