How to Avoid a Search When Pulled Over by the Police

Posted on: 26 August 2020


Police officers are restricted regarding whether or not they are allowed to search your vehicle. They might ask if they can look inside but they cannot force you to consent to a search except under certain circumstances. For this reason, it's always a good idea to say "no" when an officer asks whether they may search your car.

They Must Have Probable Cause

An example of probable cause might be when a police officer can smell marijuana in the car. This would then be enough justification for the officer to search your car for marijuana. Also, if you admit guilt, this can be used as an excuse to search your car for evidence of a crime.

How to Avoid a Search

Remain calm when speaking with the police officer. Make sure that the officer can always see your hands. Turning on the dome light can help the officer see that you're not armed. Being hostile toward the police will only increase the likelihood that they may suspect you are committing a crime and they'll try to search your car. 

Remaining silent is always an option. You will want to provide your driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance. However, you do not have to surrender any other information. Challenging the police and asserting that you know your rights is more likely to be seen as a challenge by the officer. If the officer decides to place you under arrest, they may frisk you but only if they have reason to suspect that you have a weapon.

Don't Physically Resist the Officer

You are allowed to verbally resist. However, if you attempt to physically resist, you may be tased or worse. The officer may say "may I search your car?" They can say this in a manner that sounds like a request. The 4th Amendment only applies if you do not give permission to search the vehicle. If you refuse the search, this is not considered an admission of guilt. Before you end the encounter, make sure to ask if you are free to go.

Consult with a Criminal Defense Lawyer

If a police officer searches your vehicle, you will want to speak with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. What you say to the officer and what the officer finds in your vehicle can affect your case. If you manage to avoid speaking to the police, do not say anything without having a lawyer present.