Speeding Or Moving Violation Car Search
Can A Police Officer Search My Car When He Stops Me For Speeding?
Generally, an officer cannot search your car if he stops you for a moving violation unless he has probable cause to conduct a search of the car, or the driver consents to a search. Probable cause for such a search may be supported by a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity if it is based on an informant's tip or if the driver voluntarily informs the officer that there is something illegal in the car (for example, drugs). An officer can then only search the car's trunk if he has probable cause to believe that the illegal evidence or contraband is located there, or the driver consents to this specific search.
Can An Officer Search Me If I Am A Passenger In A Car That Has Been Stopped For Speeding?
The rules surrounding the search of passengers in a car stopped for a moving violation are similar to the rules surrounding the driver. That is, if the officer has an articulable suspicion that the passenger may be involved in criminal activity, the passenger may be searched. For example, if the officer notices the passenger bends over and hides something under the seat and the car smells like marijuana when the officer approaches, the passenger may be searched. Whether or not the passenger (or driver) has actually done anything to create probable cause that a crime has been committed is usually a heavily contested issue.
What Are Some Examples Of Probable Cause Needed To Search A Car?
Officers must make an on-the-scene assessment of whether probable cause exists to search your car, so whether a search is permitted will depend on the facts of your situation. If an officer sees you throw an empty beer can out of the window, it may be sufficient probable cause to justify a search of your car. Also, if the officer smells marijuana as he approaches the car, then he may have probable cause to search.
What Is The "Hot Pursuit" Exception?
The "hot pursuit" exception allows an officer to conduct a warrantless inventory search of an automobile following a high-speed chase. In this situation, an officer can legally search your car after he pulls you over even if he does not have a basis for probable cause that is separate from the fact that you were being pursued in a high-speed chase.
If I Feel That An Officer Searched My Car After A Moving Violation Without Any Basis, Should I Contact An Attorney?
If an officer searches your car after pulling you over for a traffic violation and you feel he did not have probable cause for the search, then you should consult an attorney. An experienced criminal law attorney will advise you of your rights about bringing a lawsuit against the police department. Also, if incriminating evidence was seized from your vehicle, an attorney may be able to suppress the evidence obtained during such an illegal search so that it cannot be used against you at trial.
Consult a Lawyer - Present Your Case Now!
Last Modified: 10-24-2012 03:07 PM PDT
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