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Can the Police Search Your Car Without a Warrant?

When a police officer stops you, you are required to provide them with your license and registration while answering any pertinent questions they may have (like your name, for instance). But can the police search your car without your consent? The short answer is yes; a police officer can search your car without your permission, but only under specific circumstances. The Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys at Rudenberg & Glasser, P.A. explain when police officers can search your vehicle without permission.

When Can Police Search Your Car Without a Warrant?

The Supreme Court has ruled that warrantless police searches may comply with the Fourth Amendment as long as it’s reasonable under the circumstances.

Police can search your car if:

  1. You have given the officer consent
  2. The officer has probable cause to believe there are illegal substances in your vehicle
  3. The officer has reason to believe a search is necessary for their own protection (i.e., a hidden weapon)
  4. The search is related to an arrest (for example, a search for illegal drugs)

What Is Probable Cause?

Probable cause is a requirement in the Fourth Amendment that needs to be met before an officer can make an arrest, search your property, or obtain a warrant. A person may be stopped if an officer has probable cause or articulable suspicion that the driver has violated the law. The police can only search your car if they have a warrant or probable cause.

The key to protecting your rights is by knowing what does and doesn’t equal probable cause. For example, minor traffic violations like speeding, a broken tail-light, or an expired registration don’t meet the standards of probable cause. However, if an officer sees or smells something they believe is from an illegal substance, that can be cited as probable cause to search your trunk.

Contact Our Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyers Today!

If you believe a police officer searched your vehicle without probable cause, contact the Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys at Rudenberg & Glasser. If your vehicle was unlawfully searched, it could prevent a prosecutor from using any evidence obtained from that search against you. Our experienced legal team can investigate your case to determine if there were any mistakes made during your arrest. We have handled thousands of cases, which equips us to help you obtain the best possible results for your case.

Contact our Fort Lauderdale DUI attorneys today for a free consultation at (954) 543-1788!