Can the Police Search Your Vehicle During a DWI Stop?

Generally, the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides you from protection against unreasonable search and seizure. As a result, police officers normally cannot search you, your vehicle, or your home, without first getting a search warrant that a judge has issued after determining that there was probable cause that you had committed a crime.

However, there are various exceptions to this general rule. First, you might give consent to the police to search your vehicle or your home because you have nothing to hide. In this case, the police clearly have the right to search your vehicle or home. Since you have given consent, the Fourth Amendment does not come into play.

Next, there is the so-called “plain view” exception to the general search warrant requirement. For example, if a police officer pulls you over and you have a baggie full of marijuana or another type of illegal drug sitting in plain view on the passenger seat, then it is not necessary for the officer to get a search warrant to seize the drugs.

Another exception involves only vehicles. This exception permits officers to search vehicles without first getting a search warrant if they have probable cause to believe that there is evidence of a crime within the vehicle. As a result, if an officer pulls you over on suspicion of DWI, but he or she has probable cause to believe that you are in possession of drugs, then he or she may be able to search your vehicle to locate any drugs that might be in your possession.

Keep in mind that probable cause is a higher standard than a police officer simply thinking that you might have drugs in your car. There has to be some evidence or support for the belief that it is more probable than not that you have drugs in your car. Given these circumstances, consulting with an experience criminal defense lawyer can be key to your ability to avoid these potentially harsh consequences. The attorneys at Benjamin Law Firm, LLC, has handled the legal representation of countless individuals in DWI and traffic violation cases. We want to help you avoid as many of the repercussions of a criminal record as possible. Call our office at (816) 322-8008 to set up an appointment to speak with us today.

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