Consent to Search a Vehicle

April 26th, 2022

Vehicle Search

Clients are constantly asking about having their vehicles searched. A police officer must have probable cause to pull you over. Once stopped, an officer will need probable cause to search you or your vehicle. 

Can an officer automatically search my vehicle?

No. There is no automatic right for an officer to search you or your vehicle because he stopped you. He will ask for permission to search your vehicle. You do not have to consent. Merely asking for your consent may indicate that the officer does not have sufficient probable cause to search. There is no reason to agree to the search of your vehicle. You do not need to feel like you are cooperating or being kind to an officer. To refuse is to protect your rights, which are personal and sacred, and should be treated as such. 

Can giving consent be a bad thing?

Yes. Consenting to the search can cost you more in court. Not only have you eliminated the requirement the officer obtain a warrant to search based on some evidence of a crime, but the officer can also locate incriminating evidence you did not realize was in the vehicle. I often talk with clients after the officer has searched and found illegal items left by a previous passenger or even unlawful items in a passenger’s possession. 

What Will Justify a Search?

An odor of drugs or alcohol emitting from your vehicle can justify an office’s search. Officers often cite an older of marijuana as a basis for a search. The odor is a subjective test, and consent may not be necessary if it is present. If the officer proceeds with the search, do not interfere. Most officers are equipped with body recording devices, and the reports will reflect the search was without your consent. Lastly, officers will conduct an inventory search if the stop leads to an arrest.

If you have questions about a search of you or your vehicle, do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Larrion L. Hillman, a Shreveport / Bossier City, Louisiana, criminal defense attorney, at 318-549-9180.

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