American citizens are legally protected from unlawful search and seizure. However, police can search your car without a warrant if they have probable cause to do so. That said, how can police search your car without violating your rights? Read our blog to find out.
To understand how police can search a vehicle without a warrant, it is important to understand probable cause. Probable cause is a legal process whereby law enforcement must have sufficient evidence to support the assumption that a person has committed a crime.
There is another concept, reasonable suspicion that is often confused with probable cause. The important distinction is that probable cause is based on physical evidence while reasonable suspicion is simply an inkling that criminal activity has occurred.
For example, a police officer may pull over a person or speeding and discover drugs in the passenger seat in addition to witnessing the driver’s erratic, impaired behavior. The officer can arrest the driver and administer a chemical test at the police station to confirm whether the driver is under the influence.
But why are police allowed to pull you over in the first place?
Implied consent is what allows police to pull over drivers suspected of breaking the law. According to the principle of implied consent, every time a driver decides to drive on a public road, they are giving their consent to a stop and search.
It is not a violation of a driver’s rights and law enforcement officers are completely within their rights to search a vehicle if they have probable cause to do so. For example, if a police office pulls over a vehicle for reckless driving and discovers blood on the passenger seat, a gun, and a driver’s license that does not belong to the driver. The officer has enough evidence and probable cause to search the vehicle and potentially arrest the driver.
Your Right to Refuse
While you may give implied consent by getting on the road, you still have rights. If the officer requests blood, breath, or urine tests you have the right to refuse. However, it is important to understand that refusing to take a sobriety test could result in license revocation if you do not request a refusal hearing within 30 days of arrest.
Another key point to note is that while you do have the right to refuse, doing so may reflect poorly in court. The prosecution may use your refusal as evidence of your belligerence toward the officer and further evidence of impairment.
Never refuse a sobriety test without the guidance of an attorney.
The Wagner Law Firm is the premier DUI firm in West Virginia. Our attorney has contributed academic achievements and publications to the field of law and has advocated for countless clients accused of driving under the influence. When you entrust your case to our firm, we fight tirelessly on your behalf.
Contact The Wagner Law Firm today.