Are the police allowed to search my vehicle?
Vehicle searches are a hot topic in Florida. The Constitution provides certain fundamental rights to all Americans. The Fourth Amendment, specifically, provides a freedom from unlawful search and seizure by the government. The vehicle is also protected by our Constitutional rights, with some limitations. A vehicle is driven on public roadways and it’s very visible for law enforcement to see inside the car. If you consent to a search, law enforcement can get into your car. If they have probable cause, which is a reasonable belief that a crime has been or is being committed, they can get into your car.
One issue that we see a lot with our clients is a traffic stop, something for a turn signal, or something insignificant, and law enforcement will almost always ask “Is there anything in your car that could get you in trouble?” This friendly request almost always prompts a person to respond in the affirmative (We want to obey a command from a law enforcement officer). To be clear, this is not a command. This a a request to get into your car. If you allow them consent to search your vehicle and they find something, you will be arrested.
The short answer is be prepared. If you’re pulled over for a traffic stop, have your license and insurance ready, and don’t consent to a search. If you have been arrested for a traffic stop or any other offense where law enforcement has searched your vehicle, contact Flaherty Defense Firm today for a case review.