When Do Police Have the Right to Search My Car? | Texas

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When Do Police Have the Right to Search My Car?

 Posted on June 10,2022 in Criminal Defense

TX defense attorneyCriminal charges for driving while intoxicated (DWI) and drug possession are often the result of a traffic stop. Police may see someone weaving in and out of lanes, speeding, or otherwise driving in an unsafe manner and pull the driver over. Once the vehicle is stopped, the police may initiate a search of the vehicle. Sometimes, officers bring in K-9 police dogs who smell the car for signs of drugs or other illicit items.

If you are like many people, you may have questions about how and when police can search a person’s vehicle. Do police need a warrant to search someone’s car? Should I give police permission to search the vehicle if I have nothing to hide? Read on to learn more about your rights regarding police vehicle searches in Texas.

Unreasonable Search and Seizure

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution prohibits “unreasonable search and seizure” of personal property. Police cannot search a person’s property or take property without justification. However, understanding what constitutions an “unreasonable” search is not always easy to determine. Furthermore, the right to be free from search and seizure varies based on the type of property in question.

To search someone’s home, police usually need a search warrant. However, police do not need a search warrant to search a car, truck, van, or other motor vehicle.

Police have the authority to search your vehicle for illegal items like firearms or drugs if:

  • You give consent. – Many people do not realize that they have a right to say “no” if an officer asks to search the vehicle You always have the right to politely deny police access to your car, however, they may conduct the search anyway. Most attorneys recommend denying a police search even if you have nothing to hide because you may have illegal items in your car without realizing it.
  • Items are in plain view. – If you have drug paraphernalia such as a pipe or other illegal items in the car and the officers can see it, this gives them the right to search the car.
  • There is probable cause. – Probable cause means that officers have reasonable suspicion that a crime is or was committed. For example, if officers smell marijuana in the car, they have the right to search it.
  • You were arrested. – If you get pulled over and then arrested for a crime, the police may search your vehicle.
  • They have a search warrant. – Police are authorized to search a vehicle if they obtain a search warrant.
  • Your vehicle was impounded. – Once your vehicle is impounded, police have free reign to search it.

Police cannot search a car on a hunch or because the person was driving in a bad neighborhood. If police do not have a valid reason to search a vehicle, any evidence found in the vehicle may be inadmissible in criminal proceedings due to the “exclusionary rule.” An attorney can file a motion to suppress evidence and get the evidence barred from court.

Contact a Karnes City Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you or a loved one were charged with a criminal offense such as drug possession because of a police vehicle search, contact BRCK Criminal Defense Attorneys. Our Karnes County criminal defense attorneys can help you determine if the search violated your constitutional rights and develop an aggressive defense against the charges. Call 830-769-1010 for a free consultation.



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