In the event that you are stopped by an officer you will want to be educated on your rights aso a citizen. That includes safeguarding your privacy, possessions, and dignity. If you happened to be stopped on the highway, then the officer may ask to search your vehicle. Police require a search warrant to be able to enter and investigate your home, but with a car they only need evidence that point to you as a criminal. So what if you’re not a criminal? Can they still force their way into your vehicle? Is there any way you can prevent this? Fortunately, yes. Here is what to do if you get stopped.
You can explicitly say that the police officers do not have consent to search your car. The Fourth Amendment gives you the right to refuse searches. If officers decide to search your vehicle anyway without your say so or just for kicks, then it is considered illegal. However despite this, citizens shouldn’t expect the same amount of privacy that they would if they were in their house. The only time a policeman is allowed to go through your car is under the following circumstances:
- You gave him or her the okay to go through with it.
- The police officer has a suspicion that you are involved in criminal activity or that you are hiding drugs. For instance if they suspect you are smoking weed because your eyes are bloodshot and you seem high, or they smell alcohol emanating from your car and find your behavior to be strange (because you’re drunk).
- The police officer is wary of his own safety; i.e. you have a gun or other weapon hidden in your car.
- The officer already has a search warrant to interrogate you.
- You are under arrest or already arrested and the search is related to that arrest. For example if you are suspected of kidnapping someone, are in possession of drugs, or have any other illegal objects then they have the right to go through the vehicle.
Remember, if you are in the clear of everything except the first reason, then the only thing the officer needs to go through your automobile is your permission. Officers may try to get past this, by using loopholes such as making an “order” in the form of a request, “Hey, you don’t mind if we have a look inside do you?”, or they may use your naivety of the law or your rights as a way to get you to let them in. Even so, you have every right to refuse and if you give the okay you end up handing over your fourth amendment rights.