Can the police search my car during a traffic stop?

Can the police search my car during a traffic stop?

Generally, no. However, due to the mobility of cars, time does not permit a search warrant to be obtained. As a result, vigilant police are motivated to search suspicious automobiles. However, the police officer must have probable cause to believe that contraband is concealed somewhere. In essence, merely being stopped for speeding should not allow the officer to search your car; however, if the officer saw you throw an empty beer can out the window that may be sufficient probable cause to search your car. Or, if the officer smells marijuana as he approaches the car, he may have a reasonable suspicion to search. It is unreasonable to make a search of an automobile when the arrest is for a minor traffic violation (like speeding), as a subterfuge for a search for evidence of a serious crime. Yet, the many automobile exceptions are based on the lower expectation to the right of privacy in a car versus a home and the fact that cars are mobile and evidence can be more readily disposed.

2019-02-08T12:38:11-04:00