Florida drivers know that at some point, they could be stopped by the police. It could be for an issue as simple as a broken tail light, or it could be for something that they’re not even aware of. Many drivers are not clear if the police can legitimately search their cars or vehicles without having a search warrant.
What many people don’t realize is that the police have the right to search a vehicle if they have probable cause. Even though the Fourth Amendment protects against unlawful search and seizure, it only applies in cases where there wasn’t probable cause. Courts have generally concluded that people should assume they have a lower expectation of privacy when they’re driving around in their vehicles versus when they’re sitting in their homes.
There are a few times when police are allowed to do a warrantless search. If you’ve given the police officer consent to search your car, that consent will then serve as the right to search your whole car without a warrant. Police officers can also search your car if they believe that it’s being used in the commission of a crime. In addition, police officers can search your car without a warrant if they believe that they need to do so to protect themselves. This could mean that they may be under the assumption that there is a weapon hidden away.
Police may also be able to search your car if you’ve already been arrested and the search is related to what you are being arrested for. This could be in the case of situations like illegal drugs or any other crime. Another way that police officers may be able to search your car without a warrant is if they’ve impounded the car. Once the car has been towed and impounded by the police, they’re able to do everything from opening compartments to searching beneath the hood.
People who are questioning the legality of a car search may benefit by working with attorneys who have experience in criminal law. Criminal defense attorneys are responsible for knowing all of the ins and outs of search and seizure, and they may be able to provide a defense that helps clients reduce or avoid penalties.