Unlike for house searches, search warrants are rarely needed for the police to legally search your car. Houses have more protections against searches than cars do. For this reason, all that is needed to search your car is 1) a valid reason or 2) your consent. Keep in mind that in many cases you do not have to consent to a search of your vehicle! Unless you are stopped for an arrest, you don’t have to give permission for a search. (If you have been arrested, you can be searched for weapons or illegal substances, and so can your car. This includes all parts of your vehicle, including the trunk).
If you give consent for a search, anything found in your car can be used as evidence in court. For this reason, you should politely decline to give police permission for a search if stopped for a traffic offense.
Searching Your Car
A police officer may search certain areas of your car if they see evidence in plain sight. For example, if you are pulled over for speeding, and the officer looks through your window and sees drugs on the dashboard or an open container of alcohol in the cup holder, they have the right to search the glove compartment and console of your car. The officer may also execute a pat down search of you. Any evidence found during this search can be used in court. However, it is important to keep in mind that the police officer does not have the right to open your trunk. They cannot search it without permission. Any evidence found in an illegal search of your trunk will be inadmissible in court.
Another way that police officers can search your car is if they have probable cause. If you are stopped by a police officer, it is best to invoke your right to remain silent. Even simple answers to questions can be enough for a police officer to obtain probable cause. This can subsequently mean the search your vehicle. In addition, if an officer believes that you have concealed weapons in your car and therefore fears for their safety, a protective search of your car can be executed.
Understanding Your Rights
It is important to know your rights so that an illegal search of your car does not take place. If you believe that evidence was obtained through an unlawful search and seizure, you might have a defense against any charges brought against you. By working with a criminal defense lawyer, you can possibly get evidence dismissed from your trial if it is found that it was obtained unlawfully. If possible, do not consent to a search of your vehicle. To come up with the best defense to fight charges brought against you as a result of a search of your vehicle, you should contact a Connecticut attorney.