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What may prompt an officer to search your car?

On Behalf of | Apr 8, 2022 | Uncategorized |

The sound of a siren and the sight of flashing lights behind you could mean a police officer wants to pull you over. It may seem like a scary moment, but cooperation is important. If you stop your car and refrain from suspicious actions while the officer speaks with you, the officer might not even search your vehicle.

FindLaw points out that the police may not search your car without probable cause or a warrant. There are certain actions you might take that could cause an officer to think you have committed a crime. If so, the officer may insist on a vehicle search.

Reaching or slouching

When you come to a stop, sitting still with your hands on the wheel may be your best bet. The police are on watch for any sign that someone is trying to hide evidence, so even reaching for your car documentation may look like a suspicious act. If the police want your vehicle documents, they will ask you for them.

Similarly, you should not make any moves that look like you are grabbing a weapon. Hunkering in your seat could appear as if you are drawing a gun from behind the seat. This could needlessly escalate the situation.

Throwing an object out a window

A simple act of tossing a small object out your car window could arouse police suspicion. This is because the officer might think you are trying to dispose of evidence before the officer can talk to you. If so, your vehicle could become subject to a search to look for any other evidence that might still be present.

An object in plain view

You may make no suspicious movements at all and yet the officer might still conduct a search. This is due to the “plain view” doctrine. If you should have an illegal item in your vehicle that is visible through the windows, the officer will have the right to look in your car. Drug paraphernalia and alcoholic beverage cans are typical examples that can invite a search.

Ideally, you will get through a traffic stop without a vehicle search. If you have done nothing to provoke a search and the officer still goes through your vehicle, you may have an argument that the officer violated your rights, which could cause a court to throw out any criminal charges against you.