Thank you for asking me “Can a Cop Search my Car even if I say NO?”
Can they? Yes. On the roadside a cop “can” do pretty much whatever s/he wants. Whether or not the search is lawful is another question.
Traffic stop’s are detentions and they implicate the 4th Amendment. They’re limited in scope to their purpose, which is to write you a ticket. But, if anything happens during the course of that limited detention that gives the officer a “reasonable and articulable suspicion” that you’re engaged in criminality, then you can be further detained and the officer can further investigate the reasonable suspicion.
A bare hunch isn’t enough to transform a routine traffic stop into a criminal investigation but if there’s more (like the smell of alcohol on your breath, the smell of marijuana from your vehicle, or if something is in plain view, like an open container or a pill or a severed human head) then police can, and will, investigate.
Still, in order to conduct a Constitutionally permissible search a police officer needs either a) your consent, b) probable cause (for instance a K-9 alert) to search the vehicle, c) probable cause to arrest you (after which they can conduct an “inventory” search of your vehicle) or d) a warrant.
That’s the law, but then again, on the roadside the only real law is the guy/gal with the gun and the badge, and in the real world we know that sometimes they do what they want, not what they are lawfully entitled to do. So it’s almost always gonna behoove you to be polite and respectful. If you’re asked and decline to give permission to search, then do so nicely.
If you feel that you are being mistreated then ask for a supervisor to be dispatched to the scene. And if the cop is being a complete douchebag then dial 911 yourself from the roadside, advise dispatch that you believe that your rights are being violated and ask for a supervisor to be sent to the scene. But again, be polite, because that call is being recorded and is admissible in evidence either for or against you.
At Michael A. Haber, PA “it’s all about reasonable doubt”!
Please note that no attorney-client relationship with either Michael A. Haber, PA or Michael A. Haber, Esq. exists as a result of your watching this Webisode series. Further any and all information which is both contained in and may be construed from this Webisode series is generic in nature and should only be considered as informational and not as actual legal advise in any specific case. Should you wish to seek actual legal advise then please feel free to contact Michael A. Haber, Esq. as follows:
Office Phone: 305-381-8686
Toll Free Phone: 1-888-SHARK-8-1
Cellular Phone / Text: 305-798-2220
E-Mail: [email protected] / [email protected]
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