Refusing Consent to Search a Vehicle
The U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protects you from illegal searches. Without a warrant, law enforcement searches are illegal. However, those boundaries shift when it comes to your vehicle. An officer who has probable cause to believe that you have some contraband or otherwise illegal substances in your car can request to conduct a search. You have the right to refuse this request, and if you do so, they cannot search your vehicle without a “pressing reason.” Without a pressing reason, they must have a warrant.
Police officers are adept at wording their requests to search your vehicle in terms that make it sound as if you don’t have the option to refuse. Don’t fall for this tactic. If you refuse to permit the search and the officer proceeds without consent, it may be possible for a criminal defense attorney to suppress evidence obtained during the search.