In the United States, the Fourth Amendment protects us against unlawful searches and seizures. If law enforcement searches your car without a warrant, your consent, or probable cause, they are in violation of your constitutional rights. However, there are circumstances when police can search a vehicle without a warrant.
When Can Police Conduct a Warrantless Search?
Not every police-led search must require a warrant to do so. The Supreme Court has ruled that warrantless police searches may adhere to the Fourth Amendment, if it is reasonable under the circumstances.
These circumstances include the following:
- You have given consent to the police officer
- The police officer has probable cause to believe that there is evidence of a criminal offense in your car
- The police officer has reasonable belief that a search is required for their own safety and protection
- You have been arrested and the search is based on your arrest
Motor vehicles may be stopped if law enforcement has a reasonable suspicion that the motorist is in violation of the traffic law. However, if the reason for the stop is a minor traffic offense, such as speeding, then the officer isn’t permitted to search your car without more reason. But, if the police arrest you for conduct arising out of a traffic stop, a search may be permitted without your consent.
If the police have towed and impounded your vehicle, they possess the power to search it. The reason for your car getting towed and impounded doesn’t matter.
If you have been arrested for a crime in Plano, TX, schedule a consultation with the Law Offices of Scott Edgett today.