The police pulled you over from something simple, and you wound up being arrested for something big. You never gave consent to the search that yielded evidence, but that may not matter.
The fourth amendment of the Constitution grants you protections from unreasonable searches and seizures. This means you may not have to submit to a search during a traffic stop, but the police could proceed as long as they meet certain criteria.
A firm constitution
The cops are generally authorized to search with a warrant, but there are other ways to justify a search that aren’t considered unreasonable:
- Probable cause: If you’re pulled over and the cops have good reason to think you’re up to no good, there’s a good chance the police will look for a reason to search your car. If they see anything like an empty container or think they can smell alcohol, they may be able to look through your vehicle for proof of drinking and driving.
- Search for safety: When they believe public safety is at risk, the police might subject your ride to a search. The police could be able to search if they see something like a weapon sticking out from under the seat.
- Post arrest: An officer will likely search your car if you’re under arrest for violating the law. If you’re frisked and they find something they shouldn’t, then your car could be next in line for the white glove treatment.
Knowing your rights could be the first step toward discovering if your search was lawful. Make sure you know what qualifies, and you may be on your way to keeping your constitutional rights intact.